We’ve completed the first act of our Age of Fantasy: Skirmish campaign – The Baked Apple. 10 warbands were competing, each one following their very own, hidden or overt, agenda.
As a reminder, here’s the context for the whole campaign (beginning of Act I):
Trouble is brewing in the westward plains. An ongoing war is causing refugees to flee east, into the, if not well-off, then at least stable and self-sustained communities of two cities living next to the Albis river: the Bundesrepublik Apfegipfel, a rugged, conflicted human-dwarf commune and Weizenhof, a relatively cosmopolitan trading and farming hub.
And here’s the overview at the beginning of Act II:
Sudden influx of roving warbands of unknown origin has thrown Apfelgipfel’s and Weizenhof’s communities into turmoil. The hospitable minds of humans, dwarfs and halflings started to wonder if their own supplies are enough to be shared with the refugees from the war in the west.
Where a weary traveler was welcomed before, now they’re turned away. Shutters are kept shut, more guards are visible everywhere and people start whispering about dark times. Still, the community leaders do find success when appealing to the nobler parts of their fellow citizens; it’s a success hard-won, however.
The apple’s outer skin is not as juicy and welcoming as it used to be…
And this is how Act 1 went in detail:
The Weizenhof Volunteers vs Gitzahk Khan’s Wolfboys
Scenario: Beast Hunters
“We’re not alone in these woods” Perwick shushed to the halfling beside him. The youngling was barely of age, way too young for an assignment like this, but they didn’t really have much choice. “I hope so.” The warrior responded. “I am starving, i didn’t eat in over 2 hours.”
Perwick shot a nervous glance over his shoulder .”I don’t mean our prey, there are other hunters here.”
“O-other h-hunters?” the sound of the high pitched whining cut through the silent forest like a knife. Another halfling, armed with a bow, ran towards Perwick. “I don’t want no other hunters in here, you said this was going to be easy” the second halfling added accusatory.
“Silence! Do you want the whole forest to hear us? Go back to your positions and-” he did not manage to finish his sentence, as an arrow hit the tree next to him, trembling for a few seconds while giving out that characterful noise. “DEFENSIVE POSITIONS! UNPACK THE BEAST!” he bellowed, shooing the younger halflings into the saddest defensive line he ever encountered. He had trained for this so often, that he barely realized that he animated the lump of clay two of his group had been carrying with them, until it became a vaguely humanoid monstrosity twice his size, absorbing dirt and mud from its surroundings to add to his already intimidating size.
“Look, over there!” the Marksmen had already been advancing to get into range when he saw what they pointed at.
Between the trees, on a small glade, he could make out 3 hobgoblins, sitting atop large wolves, riding them like faster, more aggressive horses. The creatures were armed with bows with which they took the occasional pot shot into their direction. Perwick gave his troops the signal to advance.
It was feeling off.
This in itself was strange, since for much of the time it could remember, it wasn’t feeling anything at all, to tell the truth. Something must’ve happened, it felt.
And then a handful of dirt dropped on its snout. Now that was not even strange, that was… interesting. The terrible smell was next, followed the agonising pain caused by something sharp piercing its ear. It jolted upright and got out of its den, flattening something green and squeaky in the process. The green and squeaky creature was apparently riding on a gray and furry creature, which was also flat. It did notice, though, that a sharp stick the green thing was carrying had some blood on it, it’s own blood.
Well that couldn’t stand, can it?
Both the proud hobgoblins riders and the puffy halflings were expecting animal tracking followed by a hunt, even a bloody one. What they were not expecting was the hobgoblins rustling the beast’s lair, dying and or fleeing in the process and leaving the beast and its enslaved zombies to slaughter the surprised halflings.
Peter’s Public vs Investigators of the Cleansing Flame
Scenario: Cavern Crawl
“Quiet!!!” – in a rather, non-quiet way, shouted Peter. He was becoming more and more impatient with his Disgraced Black Orc Sergeant.
The fool was supposed to see him being allowed to be Peter’s de facto military right hand as an elevation and be content for at least… some time. At least content enough to not demand being paid for a while. What he’s been doing, though, was cajoling the Three Gullible Orcs into dislodging pieces of crystals from the walls of this pitch black cave.
And using the torches that they only had a few. And that were super expensive. And making lots of ruckus. And quite possibly scaring the hogs they were trailing for some time after they were thrown out of Weizenhof (and they were really hungry). And luring whatever monstrosities dwell in this forsaken pit.
Turns out, it was Peter, who was a fool, since his shrill scolding was the very thing, not the Orcs’ semi-effective efforts at mining, that Bertram the Scholar, First Accuser of the Cleansing Flame, heard. Travelling along the Albis river, on their way to establish their presence in Weizenhof (whether Weizenhof likes it or not), they only stopped to let the horses graze and to hunt some rodents for sport. A goblin’s shriek from a nearby cave was what bored to death Bertram was hoping for, not some vermin. He mustered his men and prepared to enter the cave, hoping for surprise and easy prey.
Little did he know Peter had a troll. Little did Peter know that there were bigger beasts inside than his Moderately Clever Troll.
“No, you muppet! Stop, in the name of the cleansing flame!” Stop!!!
Bertram’s cries were in vain. His young knight bodyguard, eager for easy fame, galloped inside the cave, sword and torch high, hoping to smash what was supposed to be a measly goblin and orc rabble.
While technically trolls can also form a rabble – then it’s called a gravel – they’re never measly. The knight found out the hard way, charging what turned out to be a black orc veteran, only to be flattened by a troll’s club next.
Bertram followed within, with his spearmen and longbowmen. They managed to dispatch a trio of rather confused orcs, but goblin wizard’s sniggers – why was he shouting Peter’s Public! all the time?! – turned out to be too much for the cleansing flame brotherhood. Clawed at by unseen beasts, they retreated, catching a glimpse of the goblin snuffing out the lit torches and cackling.
The King’s Oath vs Forces of the Awakened Arch
What value has something that does not live? Kutokteq’hui mused. His reptile brain was slowly pondering this question, while his warband stalked a raggedy group of undead. A Old One came to Kutokteq’hui in its sleep, asking for an offering. It did not promise anything, in return, though. Kutokteq’hui knew better than to refuse such a… kind ask. Given that neither the sacrifice nor the reward was not specified, he decided that those measly bones they’ve been tracking would make do. That ritual blade he brought from Lustria would surely come in handy…
Kutokteq’hui’s eyes followed the boney warriors that had invaded into his sacred lands. „The death of these pesky intruders will be our sacrifice to The Old One!“ he addressed his fellow lizards. „But your holyness, we didn’t have fresh blood the whole day! These figures don’t look meaty at all! Also.. it seems they are dead already“! the biggest of the Saurus warriors complained to Kutokteq’hui. „Silence! We will fullfill the command of The Old One! Charge!!!“ Kutokteq’hui rushed out of the djungle trees aproaching the skeleton warriors in front of him. Weaving the magical threads of his homeland, multiple serpent eggs materialized inbetween the bones, then exploded infernally, totally vanishing the skeleton warriors. Behind the dust he saw some well known glittering: a golden crown! This had to be the leader, this sacrifies would surely please The Old One! Focusing again, another set of eggs let the skeleton king’s head explode. This was too easy! But what was that? On his left Kutokteq’hui heard his gecko companions screaming. Turning around he saw blood all over them, their little arms and legs twitching. A sudden pain fullfilled his whole being with an intensity never felt before. Looking down on him Kutokteq’hui saw the tip of a rusty lance reaching out of his chest. Falling to the ground he watched the Saurus warriors to his right being massacred by skeleton riders butchering without making any sound. Then his world turned black.
2nd Royal Marine Guard vs The Great King of Old
Scenario: Storm Tossed Vessel
– Yeah, I’m bored, too, but orders are orders, so just relax and enjoy the views.
– The “views” have been the same for the last 6 days. Or have you been seeing the dusty ghosts again? Oh, in such case, you’ve got better views than me.
– All I’m saying is, the whole trip won’t get shorter if you open those boxes we were told to guard and not to open. Explicitly.
Settra was curious. He understood the language. He understood the accents, the intonations, the emotions behind the words.
But, was this afterlife? Where was his chariot? Why couldn’t he see anything? And why this constant slow, rocking motion?
– Are you a muppet or what, I told you not to open the damn thing!
– How would they know? They gonna take my armourprints or what? Hell, I’m doing it….! Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck!!!
This certainly was not afterlife, Settra decided. This looked more like a poor man’s version of a river barge he used to enjoy when he was still breathing. But it was definitely not his homeland and the people – armed, shocked people – didn’t look like servants. Settra stretched out his back, called out his servants and rushed forward. Boat or no boat, he will rule the damned thing.
Dockers in the port of Hönigsburg to the east from Weizenhofwitnessed a short but brutal skirmish on one of the trading ships. A small group of soldiers later identified as Royal Marines engaged in a fight with a crowd of figures the dockers described as “your old long dead granny dressed for a carnival”. A senior manager of one of the shipyards Mr. Walrus mentioned though that through his spyglass he saw patterns and necklaces on the mystical figures, that reminded him those he saw a while ago, when traveling as bounty hunter far in the south, in hot deserts of Nehekhara.
The fight was fast but brutal. Marines acted together fast and effectively, steadily crushing the opponent. One Soldier was reported fallen in the end of the brawl, but later all 3 disembarked the vessel just before it sunk.
The shipyard of Kislev, apparently being the owner of the ship, declared no claims so far, but the Burgomaster of Hönigsburg is said to be consulting with the Grand Lawyers Guild of Weizenhof.
Apfelgipfel Zeitung, 12 August
Primula The Fungus Queen vs Bundesrepublik of Apfelgipfel
– So yeah, apparently there’s this sudden growth and everything…
– What about it? We had lots of rain recently… and it’s spring anyway.
– Yeah but according to sheriff Mustermann, the farmer was swearing it’s unusual… and also their livestock started to act funny.
– What do you mean, act funny?
– Ever seen ducks fight one another to death? That kind of funny.
A small Apfelgipfel Republikstreife (People’s Patrol) approached the lone farm. It was owned by a young woman called Lauch; she grew apples and bred fowl. She asked Apfelgipfel’s local sheriff for help. While he could scarcely spare any men, he was a well-known Naschkatze (sweet tooth/łasuch) and he preferred her apples to any other. “Stupid apples” was the last thought of the rugged dwarf, who was the patrol’s captain, before he saw Lauch running in his direction, bloody and screaming.
– Apples ate my knecht! and a dog of blood!!! HELP! – she screamed, as she ran past the terrified patrol.
In the meantime, in the orchard…
– So, Margaret, how do you find our cauldron of fun?
– Oh, mother, it’s terrific! It makes my blood run quicker and I loved how it made that stupid boy throw himself at all those roosters, hens and geese. He almost won! And my doggie had so much fun! Look! Some of the geese didn’t have enough and are back for more, marvelous!
– Well spoken Maggie, well spoken. But look, we had some of our fun, but I see Ewan, Conan and Louenn have been mightily bored. Would you kindly toss that cauldron of ours a bit closer to those dashing dwarves and men over there? I think they need some… entertainment.
The patrol’s captain, should be quite curious, as to why a simple cauldron (albeit caked with reddish paste, probably betroots?) has caused him to froth at the mouth. He also might be interested in why his arquebuisers were holstering their guns and baring their teeth. Most probably he’d tell his squad to form up and approach the orchard carefully. Especially that it was moving now. Should orchard have bones and talons? But he didn’t. There was none of this. Because he had no thoughts. He had only rage.
No one involved had a sense of how much time had passed. Lauch was screaming, nothing new there though. The captain looked first at his own wounds, slowly remembering how he got them as if waking up with a hangover, then out over the orchard. Half the apples lay smashed on the ground. Even more curious was the arquebus hanging in the tree above him, and the arquebusier attempting to climb it while two of the Republikstreife’s infantry stood with their weapons pointed at the tree. He took a bite of one of the apples while he thought, but then spit it out as he encountered what seemed to be a shard of bone inside. Tossing it aside, he surveyed the other trees, then once satisfied with their lack of unusual movement, he rallied the patrol.
“Someone go over there and calm down those damn ducks please! I can’t think with all their damn quackery! Now, it’s a little fuzzy what happened, but I do know you all fought very bravely.” He began…
Margaret was panicked, not knowing what she had done wrong. “Mommy Prim, why can’t we go back? I didn’t want to stop playing, but that small man was so scary..” she said, pleading for support. Primula had gone quiet, trying to support both the splintered Ewann and place a calming appendage around Maggie. She hadn’t expected the town to lash out so severely at a family simply having a picnic. When finally they had retreated far enough, Primula warned her of the danger of trusting people who live in such towns. They would have to be more careful when they wanted to play in the future.
Sounds interesting? Join our discord’s #age-of-fantasy channel to follow how the campaign unfolds!