A HOTT battle report

A little explanation first...

A while back, I got sucked back into wargaming. Gloranthan wargaming, naturally. The GloryGeeks run an event called GloryDay once a year, in which various factions compete (using HOTT rules to fight battles from time to time) to re-run various Big Events in Gloranthan history. They invited me along to GloryDay05, which ended with Grizzly Peak (Lunar victory). This year, GloryDay06 was based loosely on the Dragon Pass board game (didn't mean a lot to me), and on the question of who controlled Sartar after 1625. Right - this bit I know about! And this year I knew a bit more about wargames, and was painting figures myself, not just admiring theirs. For some reason everyone assumed I wanted Kallyr's faction - can't imagine why! So I painted up a Hero General stand of figures based on her stats and followers in OiD, and went along, wondering if I could survive past 1626, never mind 1630.

Then I saw the trophies. We'd had a sneak preview via pictures, but... the Muswell Duck. Commemorating the fact that the contest took place in a golf club, a 25mm duck was playing golf on a pedestal. Was this the trophy for the worst painted figures, I asked? No, that was for the winner. Right. Quick change of aims here. I wanted that duck! So, given that sort of incentive, never mind the years of wargaming experience I was facing, could I "channel" Kallyr while making a few minor strategic adjustments that might let her survive the next few game-years?

Here is the tale of her glorious victory. True, accurate, and as unbiased as anything Denseros ever produced.

Gloryday '06: the Fate of Dragon Pass

(Sian Quillsharp was a former scribe at the Jonstown Library, famed among her colleagues for having once proved that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword with the aid of a Bladesharp 6 spell. When Kallyr summoned a dragon and drove the Lunars from Sartar in 1625, Sian abandoned Lhankor Mhy for Vinga, joined that part of the Jonstown fyrd that Kallyr took to fight Fazzur, and became one of Kallyr’s most fanatical supporters and, later, chroniclers. By 1640 Sian was in hiding from the wrath of Argrath Dragonspear, but continued to produce diatribes against him and in praise of her Queen for many years. Her eventual fate is unknown.)

Sian Quillsharp to my friend Richelieu of Ralios, presently at the Great Library in Nochet:
You chose the wrong time to leave Jonstown, I fear. Such a chance to see and to chronicle the events that will make our Age! I enclose the first draft of my report for your information, and also for your critical eye.

Rejoice, for the Lunars have been driven from our lands, and our beloved Queen has consolidated her grasp on the hearts and minds (1) of the people of Sartar and reigns unopposed in Boldhome!

The Dragonrise, and initial taking of Boldhome, you know of. All of Sartar was thrown into disorder. The first person to react was King Moirades of Tarsh, who sent his army to seize control of Aldachur. Sympathizers threw open the gates, and many joined his army or headed south to seize what they could. Meanwhile many Sartarite loyalists (and disreputable opportunists) raised their own warbands to fight the Lunars.

Word came that Fazzur Wide-read had been given command of a significant force, and spotting as ever where the true danger to the Kingdom lay, Kallyr hastily gathered what warriors she could from the loyal tribes, and an outnumbered ragtag army (2) marched west to meet the Tarshites. They clashed at Duck Point, and Starbrow took the day through sheer inspiration of her men. I was there at that battle, and many of the rumours you may have heard are not true. Kallyr did not avoid the fight herself – nay, the enemy knights, before whom none of us could have stood for a moment, feared her prowess so greatly that they refused to engage in combat! And her immortal words before ordering the final charge were not, as some have said, “I’m bored, let’s hit something”, but “Carpe Diem”. (3) The frenzied Death Drakes, desperate to regain their homeland, led the way, and many of the enemy fell before their blades before they themselves succumbed. General Fazzur retreated and remained cowering in Duck Point.

With the safety of Sartar assured for now, Kallyr turned her attention to the economy and security of her people, leading the ceremonies to ensure a good harvest, building new homes for those dispossessed by the brutal occupiers, and persuading even the Templars at Vaantar to join our cause.

Then news came of a Lunar assault by Moirades, and Kallyr led her army north to defend us. They met at a ford near Dwarf Run. The Telmori crossed first, and with Vingan support removed the danger of the enemy archers, but failed to also remove the strangely dressed magiosaur mage. Meanwhile some cavalry crossed the river downstream of the ford, but were met by more wolf-men and the fyrd. With the archers neutralised, the ford was key to our position, and Kallyr held it alone, again intimidating the enemy by her very presence until the Yelmalian phalanx arrived to take over the defence and the Lunars withdrew, knowing there was no route into Sartar for them here.(4)

With the kingdom united and the army strong, Kallyr turned to matters spiritual and entered the heroplane. And here the first proof of the perfidy of Argrath Dragonspear was found, for our brave Queen reappeared only hours later, empty-handed, bleeding from many wounds and cursing his name. How could a fellow Sartarite fall to such deeds, ambushing his own Queen? Do not believe the foul lies he has tried to spread that it was she who attacked first – he had many followers with him, including some of Chaos, they say, and she had but one, and would not have been so foolish as to attack a superior force, much less a friend, merely because he had some goodies she fancied. Still, never one to be set back by defeat, she entered the Heroplane once more, and soon emerged triumphant, bearing Runes of Power. Careful negotiation with potential allies led to the discovery of new secrets, and on Day 88, with knowledge of the powers of Fire gained, Kallyr lit the Flame of Sartar, proving beyond all doubt her right to be our Queen. Some have tried to suggest that she had dealings with dubious sources in this time, even with the enemy, but of course these are just the lies of those jealous of her success. In particular, it is absolutely not true that the Fire powers were gained in a rather dodgy Pavis bar from a bone-wearing shaman, nor that she sold the Harmony Rune for a year’s supply of beer, claiming to have no use for it herself. And the suggested meeting with Fazzur is too ridiculous even to contemplate.

A convocation of the Sartarite leaders met to plan for the Lunar retaliation which they were sure would come. And it was here that Kallyr proved her selfless devotion to the good of the kingdom, as she made no claim to the glory of leading the combined army herself, but instead appointed Argrath White Bull as her Warlord. His loyalty to her is legendary, of course (5), and it seemed to inspire the same feeling in others, as many Sartarites offered her the powers they had gained, saying that they knew not how to use them, but trusted her to do what was best for them all. In return she shared her knowledge with them, in particular telling the White Bull of a nest of assassins she had uncovered. Naturally, she would never stoop to using such creatures (6) herself, and trusted him to do what was right.

As the White Bull planned the strategy for the coming battle, Kallyr investigated the uses of the powers her people had given her, learning much, and dedicating herself to the Way of the Gods, her piety drawing the attention of the Fates. (7)

Eventually the two great armies met at a river near a hill shaped much like a dragon’s head – the same place where, decades earlier, Tarkalor had met his doom. A bad omen for the Sartarites? Perhaps. But the most shameful memory of that battle, when Lunars had jeered at them from the tip of the dragon’s nose, high above the battlefield, was quickly erased. Kallyr’s troops force-marched up the cliff to that very spot, the Household of Death dealing swiftly with the spirits that still lingered there, and the sight restored Sartarite morale. At the same time, there was sudden confusion in the Lunar centre, as assassins struck! One of the Tarshite kings was rapidly replaced by his son (a fact which I expect to cause great confusion among future historians).

Argrath White Bull took the centre, and Kallyr and Argrath Dragonspear held the right flank, climbing over almost impassable terrain to reach their foes, and down the narrow and treacherous paths on the other side. On the extreme right, the Tarsh Exiles commanded by the priestess of the Shaker temple faced Argrath, causing some dismay as they had been expected to fight the Lunars, not aid them, while Kallyr found waves of zombies swarming up the slopes. Are there no depths to which the Lunars will not sink? Hiring Delecti?

The Zombie Whale approaches Zombie whale about to die - well, to stop moving A huge fanged Zombie Whale lumbered forwards, dismaying all who saw it. The Telmori leapt forwards and hounded it mercilessly, hoping to drive it downhill into the approaching zombies, but while they managed to turn its advance aside, they made little impact until Kallyr herself arrived to deal the final blow. (8)

The line of battle swayed back and forth around the hill-top tower with little progress being made by either side. At one point a cry went up that Dragonspear had fallen, but this turned out to be a false alarm, he was merely hiding under a body until the immediate danger had passed.(9) Sadly, though, news from the centre of our force was not contradicted – the White Bull was lost to us, killed as he attempted to penetrate the Lunar line. Had there been time, no doubt tears would have been shed for his passing.

Kallyr v. zombies But Delecti, with Kallyr’s arrival, now perceived his real danger, and fearing for the safety of his stolen body, attempted to use his foul magics upon our beloved Queen. The Lismelder fyrd shuddered in horror, knowing all too well what he had done to their own founder in the past. But such enchantments have no effect on one so blessed by the gods other than to draw their attention. Kallyr headed for Delecti, carving her way through the hordes of zombies as if they were nothing (10), but the foul necromancer, shielded behind them, fled from her wrath and remained out of reach.

Meanwhile up on the hill the battle for the tower had reached a critical point – and it was we Vingans of the Jonstown fyrd who finally pushed the Lunars back far enough that a signal could be flown from the roof to show the armies in the valley below that this point was now in Sartarite hands. The disheartened Lunars fled, never to return. Sartar was safe!

Or rather, Sartar was now safe from the Lunars. The true internal treachery was yet to be revealed. Agents of the White Bull, suspicious of Dragonspear’s intentions, had been investigating his activities – and had discovered that he had been in league with the Lunars all along! He had traded with them – traded in that foul vice, Hazia! The general disgust and condemnation of his treason put paid to any thoughts he might have had of influence in Sartar, and his wild claims that he had been framed, that Kallyr’s Trickster had done it (11), were treated with the contempt they deserved. Kallyr was acclaimed as our undoubted Queen, Warlord, and heroine.(12)

1) And other bits
2) “Outnumbered rag-tag army”, quoted straight from KoS, is about right, due to incompetence at bidding – the result was a draw, not a win, and “sheer inspiration of her men” translates as “rolled lots of sixes”. When your opponent has more bases than you do, and yours are almost all hordes, you know you’re in trouble.
3) Sian was at the far end of the battlefield at this point, and seems to have believed that Kallyr would have been exhorting her troops in New Pelorian. What she actually said (after the “I’m bored” bit) was more like “so we’re out-numbered, out-classed, and facing one of the best generals in Dragon Pass. Only one thing to do – let’s attack!”
4) Another draw due to time-out.
5) Thanks, Richard – at least one bit of History stayed put.
6) or their 33% chance of failing and damaging the hirer’s reputation
7) Did no-one else notice this heroquest? Swap any two runes for 3 prestige? Repeat until bored? GM comment at the time: “you’re doing a lot of those, aren’t you?” Yes, people had given me a lot of “useless” runes!
8) A friction kill. This was the nearest she’d got to being in combat so far!
9) He was in fact dead, but had done an LBQ HQ earlier in the day and now used it for self-resurrection.
10) Hero-general uphill of unsupported Hordes. Very heroic. But every unit killed added another prestige point…
11) Remember she’d (not, honest) been talking to Fazzur a while back? That’s right. He even paid a rune for the privilege. Sorry, Greg. Yes, you were stitched up.
12) And Jane got the Muswell Duck. All that for one more duck mini – some people have no sense of proportion!

The Muswell Duck