We’ve completed the second 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.
And here’s the overview at the beginning of Act III:
Chaos and destruction have descended upon the prosperous lands of Apfelgipfel and Weizenhof. Forces marshalled by the two communities, already overburdened and strained with the refugee crisis, failed to stop the forces trying to upend the balance and fulfil their own, secret agendas…
Dark caverns were plundered for magical crystals, terrible beasts were awakened and the blood of cold blooded was shed. A ship carrying cargo from distant land was stranded and apple orchards were touched by a serious blight. On top of it, a dark ritual was performed and two ancient magical sites, one devoted to fire, and one devoted to ice, were thoughtlessly ransacked.
This all resonated with the magical underground seams that gave prosperity to the people of Weizenhof, but took away the sanity from the people of Apfelgipfel. The hopes and tribulations of the throngs of refugees mixed with the acute stabs from the machinations of strange warbands. This caused the seams to firstly accumulate, and then release the concentrated chaotic energy of living beings’ emotions.
Concentrated beams erupted from the ground, racing upwards, reaching stars in mere minutes. And the stars started to bleed… Defenders of order, weary and disillusioned, picked up their arms to prepare for the upcoming catastrophe, while the chaotic and destructive bands cackled and grinned, hoping to snatch many rare artifacts from the impending starfall.
It was the crowing of the roosters that rousted the bleary eyed townsfolk of Weizenhof. Then, dogs joined in, baying rabidly. Cattle tried to break free from their cowsheds. Rats were running rife, leaving the since in packs.
The people of the city thought there was a fire, at first. Or maybe a wandering troupe of fire-eaters?
Such musings were cut short by the bloodcurdling screams of people on fire running through the streets. Fireballs of all size were falling from the sky, trailing with long tails behind them, like comets. Where they landed, land was cauterized, with buildings evaporating on impact and even rocks torn asunder.
If anyone sentient had time to observe the sky, they would be surprised to see it progressively more devoid of… stars. As if the heavenly bodies, tired of their splendid, elevated isolation, decided to pay the earth a visit.
And this is how Act 2 went in detail:
The Weizenhof Volunteers vs Gitzahk Khan’s Wolfboys
Scenario: Dreamworld Duel
After an unsuccessful and murderous hunt for the beast, both warbands returned to their camps. The Hobgoblins suffered heavy losses and once again licked their wounds like a pack of wolves. They had gone from hunter to hunted, but the Weizenhof Volunteers fared no better. They fled head over heels from the battlefield as the beast unexpectedly fell upon them. Definitely not a glorious performance for a supposedly tough mercenary troop. Their strengths were apparently more into drinking Apfelgipfel cider and dining. Perwick had drowned his defeat in the delicate swill and had promptly fallen asleep because of it, but something was very unusual…
Perwick slowly opened his eyes and found himself on a dusty, empty plain, next to his own mercenary troop.
The air shimmered around them and he saw several figures blurred on the horizon. He couldn’t believe his eyes, it was Gitzahk Khan’s Wolfboyz approaching at full gallop on their wolves! “Volunteers fan out and advance on the center. Hold positions!” he murmured to his troops. The first bolts shot past and dug into the ground. Perwick wished he had sturdy cover for himself and his comrades now. A moment later, the earth shook and something shot up from the ground in front of them with great speed and noise. A short time later, a stone windmill towered between them and the advancing Wolfboyz! Perwick felt a kind of energy flow through him that he had never felt before. It seemed as if he had somehow conjured up this structure himself with the power of his mind?
The goblin leader sensed a gap in the halfling’s defenses and charged straight at Perwick! However, he now had to go around the recently appeared windmill and his attack lost momentum. Against expectation, he missed Perwick and his wolf snapped into space with its huge mouth, while the halfling lunged, swinging his two-handed hammer on its axis. The hammer slammed into Gitzahk, knocking him off his mount and sending him crashing to the ground. The other wolf riders were enraged and swore bitter revenge, which they underlined with loud shouts. The Weizenhof Volunteers held their ground for the time being, but their ranks thinned as more wolf riders crashed into their ranks and some were cut down by the goblin shortbows. Perwick looked around and recognized, that they could no longer hold their position. Another structure shot up and formed into a forest, but the goblins were skilled horsemen and surrounded the halflings more and more. The goblins’ revenge bore fruit and the first halflings took flight. Perwick shuddered and closed his eyes, needing to think…
A moment later, he was shaken violently and opened his eyes. Standing in front of him was one of his men, grinning mockingly at him, “Well, boss, did you look too deep into that cup last night?” A confused Perwick Littlebottom frowned and didn’t know what was happening to him. Had he just dreamed all this?…
Peter’s Public vs Investigators of the Cleansing Flame
Scenario: Eye of the Vortex
Bertram and his troop were stalking the goblin for weeks. “They wronged me”, “It was all planned”, “Flame should have told me that it’s wrong” – Bertram kept murmuring. His underlings, including freshly recruited peasant rabble -for it was early spring and some mouths to feed were not missed from a village they passed – put up with it, knowing that among all of them, Bertram is definitely the smartest. At least, the most cunning.
The young, impetuous knight whose reckless charge caused him to be flattened by a troll was itching for payback, too; he couldn’t fathom how a bunch of smelly savages could lay their paws (not hands, surely!) on his noble, alabaster skin.
There! – a shout rang out, from one of the commoners.
Peter heard about this place from an eerie hermit that visited the Weizenhof mage once; a strange obelisk that seemed stuck in a loop: it caused a spell of really frosty winter around it which expanded and shrunk all the time. Trick was to stay close to the obelisk, the hermit said, for the power there needs a bit of a buffer so it’s not that cold there. If Peter could crack the obelisk mystery, he would surely become a stronger mage, a step towards unseating his Weizenhof oppressor.
He did get irritated, understandably, when he heard a thunder of hooves and hackneyed cries about “something something Cleansing Flame aaargh!”
Peter rolled his red eyes and sighed: “These buffoons again…”
Peter couldn’t quite believe it.
The troll stomped the knight again – check.
He held back to let his professional employees  do the job – check.
His trusted black orc sergeant was told to secure the obelisk – che… not quite, no, I’m afraid.
After all, who could expect a lowly peasant to throw grain in the eyes of a mighty black orc, blinding him and then proceed to kick him in the, well, unarmoured regions? It was all it took for Bertram to grab the momentum, run up to the obelisk and shatter the magical crystal that was powering its mysterious frost waves. With nothing to learn from, Peter sounded retreat, snot dropping from his long goblin nose, for he was crying out of sheer disappointment.
– And you call yourself a grail knight? This happened TWICE already, that troll surely does have your face implanted on the underside of its foot now! – Bertram was scolding the knight .
– As for you, young commoner, don’t get ideas above your station. It was the knight that dispatched that black ork, not you, understood?
– You were useful, however; help yourself to a pint of beer from our cart, in a way you did earn it, even as a lesson for the damned knight….
However stern he sounded, Bertram was pleased. The young knight was forced on him by some merchant family connections and he never wanted him on the warband. And the goblin’s warband took a beating, too. Not a bad day, no. Maybe now they could get back to their original mission, to check if the stories of the famous Apfelgipfel being rife with chaos corruption held true…
: Peter learned a lot during his short time as a warband leader and knew better than to disparage his underlings, even in his green goblin thoughts.
: Bertram didn’t believe in people’s management
2nd Royal Marine Guard vs Bundesrepublik of Apfelgipfel
Scenario: Ring of Fire
No sooner had Apfelgipfel’s Republikstreife managed to get some rest after the definitely… weird encounter in the apple orchard, than they received a new call. A ship was recently moored on the Albis river – which would be of no importance in itself, however there was a brief skirmish onboard; Mr Walrus, the well-respected shipyard senior manager, reported that he saw mystical figures fighting against armoured, elite soldiers. Since Apfelgipfel received no word of such a force’s arrival, sheriff Mustermann decided to send the Streife to intercept and investigate the elite force, which was supposedly the one that made it out of the ship in one piece.
Royal marines felt good. It was nice to stretch their legs with those skeletons and mummies after a long voyage; with the fun over, their commander checked their orders from the Duke of Roothoff himself and they set off for what was supposed to be an abandoned magical “firing range” on the outskirts of Burg Kaltenstein. Duke was a man of insatiable curiosity and has heard through the grapevine that apparently the old magical training grounds have been woken up by – and that is something the duke couldn’t get – a wandering goblin wizard. This could prove an interesting addition to his menagerie… If not, it was something to do for the ambitious leader of the 2nd Royal Marines Guards anyway.
Streife’s captain, a rugged dwarf going by the name of Mike, was eyeing the armour-clad figures warily, from the cover of a moss-covered rock. He didn’t like the feeling of this place at all, especially that the grass in the are was completely singed… still, orders are orders. He mustered his troops and ventured out to intercept the intruders.
“Heck!  that beard would take ages to regrow… retreat! retreat!” Mike, Streife’s captain rallied his troops, managing to weave an expletive even in that cry, experience sergeant he was.
The field was lost, his unit shattered, with the deadly magical fire taking some and the nigh unkillable enemies the others; he managed to fell one, another one was smashed by a sudden volcanic eruption, but the patrol was routed, with his swordsman taking heavy wounds. He will need to send word to the Republik for more support.
“I’m not sure if the Duke was right sending us here. Nothing interesting so far – some embalmed cadavers, then this so-called Apfelgipfel Patrol? This crazy magical fire caused us more trouble than them!” snorted the captain of the marines.
He decided his unit did well, so he decided to set camp. Outside of the magical firing range, of course, he doesn’t need more accidents, his 2nd in command’s armour would take weeks to be repaired in those field conditions…
: Mike was brought up to be stern, but still polite
Primula The Fungus Queen vs Forces of the Awakened Arch
– Mother, it still hurts. That cauldron was really heavy to carry.
– Be brave, Margaret, I’ve got enough work as it is making sure the lovers don’t evaporate, I don’t have the capacity to carry you, too!
Kutokteq’hui was observing the motley crew tramping through the forest, his thoughts impassionate and cold as ever. His reptile brain was itching to pounce on the unsuspecting, seemingly marauding group; same reptile brain, however, was tugging his scales to rest, preferably in the sun, and heal his wounds.
With what could be interpreted as a disappointed hiss, he slithered back into the undergrowth, calling the rest of his warband with him.
– Did you hear that, Mother? That leathery sound?
– Sounded like you bashing your feet over the cauldron again. Catch up! We need to put the crew back together and put on the new brew…
Both warbands decided to avoid combat and prepare for the fights to come.
The King’s Oath vs Great King of Old
Scenario: The Ritual
„God undamn it, I’m running late!“, the Oath King thought, marching with his loyal troops through the forest. The lizardmen had died quite quickly but it had taken him some time to find a replacement skull that would fit his crown. Also he had to think about apple pie a lot since then.. Anyway, he was back on track but time was running late. The Old Book had revealed it’s secrets to him and he knew how to gain the power he needed. The power which would enable him to fulfill his Oath… finally…
The frame in time would open any minute now. The otherworldly gates would be accessible to execute The Long Forgotten Ritual at this specific ancient ritual site. He could feel the presence of unholy power already, stepping through the ruins of a burnt down and abandoned village and there was the site. But what was that?! He couldn’t unbelieve his ..“eyes“! At the center of the ritual site with arms raised up high, there was a skeletal figure, just commencing The Long Forgotten Ritual. No, this wasn’t, this couldn’t, he would never allow to! …three words were silently formed in his head: apple, pie and CHARGE!!! Like one movement all of his troops rushed forward towards the ritual site. A crowd of hostile skeleton warriors stepped in their way, blocking the path to the site. Poison was dripping from their rusty blades and they were able to behead the first attack of Oath’s warriors. But they were not prepared for the well trained Oath King’s cavalry, having decades of experience in their bones. The knights just stormed through the warriors and, entering the ritual site, instantly finished the ritual by killing the enemy hero. STOP! ..something was bad, really really bad. A cursed arrow was stuck in the Oath King’s shoulder, inflicting pain. But that wasn’t it.
Something bad had happened, he could feel a ripple, a shift, an avalanche of black energy arising. Then it broke free. A monstrosity of a demon cracked through the warp and materialized at the ritual site, scaring the Oath Knights to undeath. KKAZZZUUUMMM!! At the same moment a lightning struck from the sky and found it’s desired destination in the Oath King’s golden crown. GOD UNDAMNED! This was the price for interfering with an unholy ritual! PAM PAM! Two more cursed arrows hit the Oath King hard. He fell to the ground. Was that it? Was all hope lost? He had fought for so long, all for his Oath. For his people! Was this finally the End? …the comfort of a warm grave… NO! He wouldn’t give up. He would walk on. Like he always had. Get up! Balancing one on the other, bone by bone the Oath King stood back up, his view wandering over the battlefield. Out of empty holes, his loyal troops starred back at him. They had claimed the battlefield awaiting new orders. „We move on.“, he thought and bones started to rattle. „Time for a new plan.“
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