Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Scenario 2: Three is Company

Sam clutched his walking stick close to his chest as he blew into his cupped hands. The night had up until now been fairly warm, yet all of a sudden a feeling of cold seemed to have swept over him.
“Brrr, it’s getting a bit chilly,” grumbled Pippin, echoing Sam’s general sentiments. “I think we’d better find somewhere to stop and try and wrap ourselves up for the night, eh Frodo? Frodo?”
Sam paused when he realised that his master was not walking by them anymore. He had stopped several steps back, and looked as if he were listening intently for something. That in turn prompted Sam to listen, and as he did he froze like a statue. Hooves.
They were muffled slightly, as if falling on grass, but the sound was there. And not just hooves; there was also the clinking of stirrups and some other sound that Sam didn’t recognise. It was armour plates, clanking softly together.
Frodo signalled hurriedly to his friends to run for cover, and all three scrambled through a nearby line of bushes so as to get clear of the patch of open ground they were occupying. On the other side however was yet more open ground.
Sam suddenly felt an unpleasant urge telling him to look westwards. As he did his heart seemed to stick in his throat. There, framed upon a low hillside by the rising moon was a rider, all in black. The shadows about him seemed to pool, thick and rich down the sides of the grassy summit, until Sam lost sight of them below the line of trees.
Then a shriek went up, grim and terrible across the night. The rider had turned its horse to face them, and suddenly it was gone, vanishing like its shadow beneath the trees. The sound of hooves did not disappear along with it though; indeed it grew louder.
“Run!” cried Frodo, and the three hobbits began a frantic dash through the dark woodland.

Gildor Inglorion sat bolt upright as a scream like the wail of tortured souls rent the hitherto still night air. All of a sudden he felt a presence, black and cold like a wisp of midnight. Without a moment’s hesitation the elf leapt to his feat and dashed across the grassy floor of the elven wood hall. He paused just before leaving the shelter of the trees to snatch up an object from where it lay against one of the pale trunks.
Fastening the thing to his belt Gildor began to descend the hill, ignoring the questioning cries of his folk about him. Reaching one of the low ridges of the hill he took pause, just time enough to draw the sword at his waist.

This particular scenario annoyed me rather, and I felt my lack of access to any reference materials very keenly. Because no internet connection had yet been installed back at the time (it must have been early to mid February I think) when I played this, I had virtually no resources to consult besides the actual novel, which was of course not very helpful, as there was no actual fight in the original text. In the end I decided I would have a "mad dash" type situation similar to the hobbits' flight to the Buckleberry Ferry in the movie. I think it turned out okay after all, and proved to be reasonably fun (and that is the whole point really).
Two of the three Ringwraiths start at opposite ends of the road which runs along the southern board edge, while the third is in reserve and arrives on turn 2, as he is assumed to be chasing the hobbits and not far behind. The hobbits all start on the western board edge and have to exit the board via the hill on the eastern edge, at the foot of which Gildor starts. The Ringwraiths' objective is simple: kill Frodo and get the Ring.

This is no hobbit walking party! (from left to right: Peregrin Took, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee. Back row: Gildor Ingolrion)
On the Good side we have Frodo, Sam and Pippin, who all count as unarmed, contrary to their models. Gildor Inglorion is also present, being represented by a wood elf warrior with elven blade. I could have made up a paper model for Gildor, but I decided that I like using a real model better, even if it didn’t look quite the same.

The pursuing Black Riders (from left to right: The Betrayer, The Dark Marshal, The Shadow Lord)
On the Evil side we have three of the Nazgul: The Dark Marshal, The Betrayer and The Shadow Lord. I chose these three because both the Betrayer and the Dark Marshal still had decent totals of Will at 6 each, and the Shadow Lord had a whopping 7 Will, thanks to his early banishment in the last game.

I chose to have the Shadow Lord in pursuit of the hobbits and thus in reserve, while the other two wraiths patrolled on the road nearby

Turn 1
Good Priority (automatic)

The hobbits ran hurriedly forwards through the trees, glancing constantly over their shoulders to where they could discern a large shadowy figure approaching fast. As they entered a small clearing Sam called out, “Mr. Frodo! I can hear somethin’ else comin’! Away there towards the road!”
Sam was right. The Betrayer and the Dark Marshal had only just come into sight of each other on the dirt track, when the Shadow Lord’s cry had rent the air. Now they had swung their dark steeds off the road, and galloping through gaps in the hedges which lined the track they headed towards the trio of young hobbits.
Gildor meanwhile sprinted forwards as fast as he could, his keen elven eyes discerning the three hobbits and the shape of their dark pursuer in the shadows, though they were yet to see him.

Turn 2
Good Priority
The hobbits ran wildly into the clearing, eyes darting hither and thither. Now Sam was not the only one who could hear the newly approaching threat; they all could. Hooves pounded eagerly on leaves and rough grass, and armour clanked as the Dark Marshal drew nearer. And now behind them the hobbits could make out clearly the shape of their original pursuer not far behind. He was a towering figure with blue runes etched along the hem of his dark cloak, which parted at the chest to reveal his mail, glinting faintly in the rising moon.

Then suddenly a second rider burst into the clearing. The three hobbits could see his helm flashing a pale silver, but under its visor there was no face. Frodo felt his heart sink with dread at both rider’s appearance and his grim visage. He gasped suddenly as something dark and sharp whizzed from the rider’s hand towards him.
Suddenly there was a cry of “Elbereth!” from away in the darkness to the east, and the dark thing that had leapt towards Frodo fizzled and died. The three hobbits turned to see a third figure, this one on foot, and seeming to shine with a regal white radiance. “Get you gone, fiends!” cried Gildor, sword blade gleaming under the light of the moon, which struck him head on and seemed to wreathe itself about him. The Nazguls’ only response was to hiss in black hatred at the approaching elf.

Turn 3
Evil Priority
Frodo could feel the desire to don the Ring clawing at him, but with a great effort he tore himself free. “Come on, run!” he called to Sam and Pippin, snapping them out of their stupors of fear at the terrible figure of the Dark Marshal. Frodo and Pippin hurried towards the nearby trees, but to Frodo’s horror he realised that Sam was not with them.

“You run sir, run!” cried Sam, clutching his walking stick tightly in both hands and charging towards the black rider before him. The Dark Marshal snarled in frustration; this was not the halfling he wanted. His sword lashed out, and despite Sam’s best efforts to parry it, the gardener cried out as it bit into his left shoulder. Even as Frodo cried out in horror, their original pursuer galloped into the clearing, horse rearing high as the rider paused to assess the situation.
Gildor meanwhile came to an abrupt halt as he heard the noise of hooves behind him. A third Ringwraith towered now above him in the shadows. “Foolish elf,” hissed the Betrayer, “These halflings belong to Sauron the Great.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” replied Gildor, unmoved.

Turn 4
Good Priority

“Eärendil!” cried Gildor, and sprang forwards suddenly, surprising the Betrayer who pulled his horse backwards. The two joined swords, and despite his surprise the Ringwraith was able to stave away the elf’s blade, though he flinched at the name of the Morning Star.

Pippin swallowed hard, and turning quickly to Frodo he gave his hand a squeeze. “Go Frodo,” he said, “run for it!” Then to Frodo’s horror he dashed out into the clearing brandishing his stick. The Shadow Lord pulled back in outright astonishment; this halfling was daring to attack him? At the same moment Sam gave a loud cry of defiance and charged the Dark Marshal yet again. This time the Ringwraith was angry, and struck out at the plucky gardener with the intent of removing his head. Yet by some twist of Fate, the blade caught on Sam’s cloak and did not lay a scratch on him, though it prompted him to fall flat on his backside in shock.

Pippin waved his stick at the rider, swinging wildly out of fear. Suddenly one of the horse’s hooves lashed out, and the hobbit felt a dull red pain on his forehead, before all went back and he fell to the ground, still. “No!” cried Frodo, as he scrambled out of the patch of woodland. The Shadow Lord hissed and turned his gaze on the Ringbear hungrily. The One was calling to him.

Turn 5
Good Priority
Sam wasn’t sure if his nerve was failing him, or if he was just thinking better of his decision to fight, but he made a mad scramble away from the black rider before him. “C’mon Mr. Frodo, run!” he called to his master. With difficulty Frodo managed to pull his gaze away from the unmoving form of his friend and eyes shut tight he ran with all his Might.

Infuriated that their prey might be escaping them, the two Ringwraiths let out hisses and galloped after the two fleeing hobbits. The Shadow Lord reached out his gauntleted hand, but the dart he hoped to bring Frodo down with stubbornly refused to materialise; the magic of the elves was in the air here, and the strength of the shadow was growing steadily less and less. The Dark Marshal however caught Sam, and slashed down with his sword, thinking to finally be rid of this troublesome hobbit. Sam wasn’t sure how he did it, but somehow he span round, and with his walking stick he smacked the pale blade aside. While the wild waving of Sam’s stick did little to harm the Dark Marshal, he could feel the exertion beginning to take its toll on him.

Barely a stone’s throw away the Betrayer gave a shriek as with a mighty effort Gildor’s blade found its way past his defences and bit deep into his unseen flesh. The Nazgul fell from his horse, and though he tried to loom menacingly before the elf, he knew he was finished. “Get you gone,” commanded Gildor, “return to your evil!” The Betrayer howled in hatred as his body was torn away by an unseen wind, white flames engulfing him.

Turn 6
Evil Priority

Pulling up his inner strength Gildor dashed forwards. “Run Frodo!” he called, “Climb the hill; my people will protect you!” The two Ringwraiths snarled and hissed at the elf lord before them, even as the two hobbits drew further and further away from them. Unable to see a way past Gildor the Dark Marshal reared his black steed towards him, crying out for the Shadow Lord to ride forward and “seize the prize!”

“Master!” cried Sam in warning, as the Shadow Lord bolted past Gildor and headed for Frodo, sword coming in a wide arch towards him. But as Frodo turned, it was as if a great weakness fell upon the wraith’s sword arm, and somehow Frodo was able to fend the pale blade off with his stout stick (I rolled double ones for the Shadow Lord!).

Turn 7
Good Priority
Not daring to look back Frodo scrambled desperately up the hill, fearing that at any moment he would feel a black rider’s sword in his back. But he did not. When at last he dared to look over his shoulder he saw that Sam was hot on his heels, and that the two black riders were at bay about Gildor, whose blade sparkled in the moonlight and drove back the pale swords of the Ringwraiths.

Then suddenly Frodo found himself surrounded by people, many of whom rushed passed him. He could vaguely hear cries of “Elbereth!” as a crowd of a dozen or so fair folk rushed towards the Nazgul at the bottom of the hill. He was dimly aware of being lifted up by long arms, and then being set down somewhere soft and comfortable. The shouts of battle had died away, and were replaced by quiet yet earnest voices. Frodo thought there was a hobbit on either side of him, but he was so tired from his ordeal, that before he was fully aware of his surroundings, he was asleep.
When he awoke Frodo found himself seated with his back to a tall pale tree. He was inside some kind of hall he thought, yet the roof was made of the bending bows of trees, and the floor was soft green grass. Then he remembered the night now past, and tears came to his eyes. “Oh Pippin,” he murmured.
He started when a voice answered, “Yes?” away to his right. Frodo turned and his expression turned to one of joy. There was his young friend, sitting against another tree with a bandage of white linen wrapped around his head. “Hello Frodo,” said Pippin.
“You, you fool!” spluttered Frodo, before embracing the other hobbit.

And that brings us to the end of our second battle report. I was really worried for Pippin there when he was cut down by the Shadow Lord, but thankfully it seems that it was only a flesh wound, which he promptly recovered. However, recovery was not kind to our heroes in general. Sam didn’t recover his lost wound, or either of his lost Might, and Frodo only got back the one point of Might. The Evil side however did rather well for the most part, with the Shadow Lord recovering all three spent points of Will and the Dark Marshal recovering three of his four. Sauron must have been unhappy with the Betrayer for falling in battle though, since he recovered none.

The final tallies for characteristics are:
Frodo: Might 1, Will 3, Fate 3, Wounds 2
Sam: Might 0, Will 1, Fate 1, Wounds 1
Pippin: Fate 0, Wounds 1
Shadow Lord: Will 7
Dark Marshal: Will 5
Betrayer: Will 4

The scenario itself was a little bit hair raising at several points, but in the end Frodo managed to escape, unlike in my earlier test run where the Betrayer ended up cutting him down at the foot of the hill. So far the scenarios have managed to be reasonably close run things much to my enjoyment, and I hope that holds out when we come to the next one.
Speaking of which, the next scenario will be taken directly from the pages of Battle Games in Middle Earth issue 13. No really; the board I’ll be using is in those pages! For the next scenario we’ll be seeing Gandalf the Grey facing down his treacherous former master, the now Saruman of Many Colours. This scenario will be determining the participants for when the Ringwraiths attack Weathertop in A Knife in the Dark, so it’ll be somewhat important.
Should Gandalf win he will escape Orthanc and be present for that scenario, otherwise Saruman will hold him captive, and we won't be seeing him again until after the Council of Elrond.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this battle report, and I hope you’ll be back to read the next one.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

You do not know pain, you do not know fear...

One of the good things that seems to have come out of the narrative campaign so far is that I’ve started repainting a lot of my collection. Many of my LotR models were painted back when I was about eleven or twelve, and so naturally they look awful. The first models to be redone were my Ringwraiths, followed by the four hobbits, but these were all fairly minor things, so I’m not gonna be making a post about that. The first major group to be finished are the Uruk-hai Scouts, along with their two captains Lurtz and Ugluk.

In addition to the two villains there is one old box worth of Scouts. i.e. 24 in total: 8 with hand weapons, 8 with hand weapons and shields and 8 with orc bows. On a side note I originally picked these guys up specifically to play scenarios out of the Two Towers Journey book. The first appearance they’ll be making in the campaign will either be at Amon Hen with the breaking of the Fellowship, or else at the Fords of Isen, depending on how things pan out.

So that’s the first half of Saruman’s hunters. The second half will be 24 Orc Warriors, led by Grishnakh who I’ll attend to sometime soon(ish). The next models I paint will likely be a group of six warg riders, though that won’t be until I’ve actually got them, as I haven’t even been able to order them yet. In the meantime I’ll be working on something rather interesting that I’ve never really done before. I won’t reveal what it is yet as not only does it spoil what happened in the first six scenarios, but because I can’t guarantee it’ll work in the first place…
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Scenario 1: Wardens of the Shire

The veil of dusk crept through the woods in a sheet, draining both sound and sight as it went. The air gradually took on a sharp chill that snapped at the face and burned the fingers. But this chill was not wholly the cold of approaching night.

Aranial peered forwards into the lengthening shadows, eyes straining for a sign of movement. Elren paused by him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Can you feel it?” he asked.

“I can,” murmured Aranial. “Something foul is aproaching.”

“Radagast warned us the enemy was moving towards our lands,” growled Elren, “we were right to increase our watch here.”

Suddenly there came a faint noise from the sea of shadows ahead. Armour clinked lightly, followed by the rustle of foot falls in the thick carpet of fallen leaves. The two rangers froze at the sound, holding still like a pair of cats watching for their prey. The sound continued, growing steadily louder, and with it came a deep shadow, thicker and darker than those cast by the light of the fading sun.

But the shadow was no shadow. It was a man, shrouded in the folds of a cloak so black that it seemed to stain the very air about him.

At the sight of him the pair of Dunedain felt the breath catch in their throats. Though the blood of Numenor flowed in their veins, they were not immune to fear. Aranial let out a small choking sound, as the first figure was flanked on either side by two more, all veiled in robes blacker than the darkest shade of night.

Aranial felt Elren’s hand tighten about his shoulder. “String your bow,” he hissed to Aranial. As the younger ranger hastily obeyed Elren loomed to his full height and gave a blast on his horn to signal the others. Even as a dozen other rangers grasped spears and swords and strung their bows, the horn blast was met by a screech that pierced the cold air of twilight and rent it asunder.

Welcome to the first scenario of my Lord of the Rings Narrative Campaign: Wardens of the Shire.  
The Nazgul have finally come to the southern borders of the Shire only to find that they have been expected. A force of Dunedain rangers has mustered with the intent of repelling the fallen kings and protecting their halfling charges. The scenario is inspired by The Trust of Arnor in the Fellowship of the Ring Journey Book, but since I don't have a copy of said publication, I fashioned a slightly different engagement.

For this scenario the Good side consists of 12 Dunedain. I am aware that these models are not Dunedain but instead generic rangers, but this was all I could lay my hands on. 

The Nine are abroad! Front row from left to right: The Dark Marshal, Khamul the Easterling, The Witch King of Angmar, The Dwimmerlaik. Middle row: The Betrayer, The Knight of Umbar, The Tainted, The Undying. Back row: The Shadow Lord

The Evil side consists of 8 generic Ringwraiths and the Witch King of Angmar. Now, I do have four actual models of generic wraiths along with four generic wraith card models to make up the numbers, but I’ve chosen to use paper models of the character Ringwraiths instead. I’ve done this so that I can distinguish easily between them for tracking how much Will they have during the campaign, and also because they do look cooler in my opinion.

The Nazgul all start in a line along the western board edge (from left to right: Dark Marshal, Betrayer, Witch King, Khamul, Tainted, Knight of Umbar, Shadow Lord, Undying, Dwimmerlaik). The Dunedain I deployed in little parties of four. Party 1 was placed on the south hill, Party 2 in the shadow of a grove of trees and Party 3 on the crest of the north hill. I knew there wasn’t much chance of wounding the wraiths with bow fire (it requires a 3+, a 6+ and then a 5+!), but I figured I might as well have a go. In order to win the Evil Side had to get at least five Ringwraiths off of the western board edge, one of which had to be the Witch King.

Turn 1
Good Priority (automatic)
The Dunedain held to their places for the most part, with the central group only moving out into the open a little more so as to reduce the cover the wraiths could get from the woods. The southern band did shuffle slightly forwards, but apart from that they and the northern group held their places. Even if it might not lay them low, the rangers would do their best to turn the Nazgul into pincushions!

In the south the Ringwraiths advanced calmly for their way was clear of any enemy. In the centre, seeing that he could have no protection from the Dunedains’ arrows, Khamul advanced straight towards them, silver blade flashing in the fading light. On his right the Tainted and the Knight of Umbar drew forwards, swerving around the trees that blocked their path. In the north the Shadow Lord and the Undying loomed towards the Dunedain on the hill, while the Dwimmerlaik hurried around the side, hoping to slip past unengaged.

As the Nazgul advanced the Dunedain steeled their nerves and notched their arrows. Eight dark shafts leapt from their bows through the shadows of dusk towards Khamul, and while four did find their mark, the Ringwraith’s armour deflected each of these in turn. To the north a trio of arrows struck the Undying, but each of these clattered harmlessly off of his armour.

Turn 2
Evil Priority
The Ringwraiths continued to advance, pressing in the direction they felt the One was calling them. In the centre, seeing that the Dunedain could likely all charge him at once, Khamul reached out with his dark magic, hoping to transfix one of the rangers before him. Feeling the black magic clawing at his heart, the descendent of Numenor steeled himself and resisted the spell. Despite this great accomplishment his will was all but depleted as yet more dark magic (emanating this time from the Tainted) took hold of him, and he stood rooted to the spot. The Knight of Umbar sought to follow his comrade’s example, but the distance from his dark master was telling, and the spell did not manifest. To the north the Shadow Lord and the Undying both attempted to conjure black darts with which to pierce the ranger’s hearts, but each of these spluttered, and died.

Suddenly, with a cry of “Elendil!” three of the Dunedain charged towards Khamul, leaving their transfixed comrade to stare blankly into space behind them. It was a brave effort, but proved to be in vain as Khamul beat all three of them back in turn, and cut the throat out of one. Gasping, the ranger fell face down upon the grass and lay dead.

But all did not go ill for the brave men of Arnor, as to the north three of the Dunedain charged the Shadow Lord, though one quailed at the approach of the dark being. Hissing with hatred the Shadow Lord swung his blade, but met only air. With a snarl one of the rangers darted by the pale sword and rammed his own weapon into the foul creature, burying it in his invisible flesh up to the hilt. The Ringwraith screamed in pain and fury before vanishing in a flash of white flame.

Turn 3
Good Priority

Seeing their companion fall, the rangers who charged Khamul scramble backwards to avoid his sweeping blade. At the same time the other nearby group of Dunedain, who had up until now been uselessly firing arrows into the approaching Nazgul, hurried down the slope of the hill to assist their brothers in arms. In the north, spurred on by their victory over the Shadow Lord, the Dunedain charged into the Undying. But though the previously terrified ranger found his courage and charged forward, one of his companions froze at the sight of the Undying’s grim visage.

Even as the Dunedain fell back before him, Khamul laughed and gave chase. It was a terrible sound, filled with malice. He loomed above one of the retreating Dunedain and slashed his blade down. The man screamed in pain and fell to the ground, blood flowing freely.

The Tainted and Knight of Umbar summoned their dark energies once again, this time with the intent to kill rather than transfix. The Tainted’s black dart would not materialise, but the Knight of Umbar’s outstretched hand heralded the dark bolt which shot through the fading light. But the fates were smiling on the ranger he attempted to bring low, and by some miraculous occurrence he endured the dark magical assault. The Tainted’s anger at his failure was only increased by the hail of arrows that landed around him, one catching within the very folds of his cloak.

The Undying shrank back from the spears and swords of the Dunedain, just barely managing to escape being cut down like the Shadow Lord. He hissed a curse in the direction of the Dwimmerlaik, as his fellow Ringwraith not only failed to send a black dart into the backs of the rangers, but also began to move up and leave him behind.

Frustrated now by his lack of access to the battle, the Witch King hurried forwards, crying out in a terrible voice for his nearby allies the Betrayer and the Dark Marshal to quicken their pace.

Turn 4
Good Priority

Seeing their friends perish by Khamul’s blade, the rangers who had hurried down from the southern hill called out for their companions to have courage in the face of the shadow. Strengthening their resolve all bar one of the Dunedain charged the trio of Ringwraiths before them, with two to both Khamul and the Tainted while a brave ranger faced the Knight of Umbar alone. Hissing with fury both the Tainted and the Knight of Umbar drove their opponents back, swords whooshing through empty air. Khamul however lunged forwards fiercely, but to his dismay found his blade parried. A spear was thrust forwards, but could push past his armour. The Dunedain, desperate to avenge his fallen kin, poured all his Might into the strike, and to the Ringwraith’s anger and horror broke through. Khamul lunged towards the two descendants of Numenor, even as he exploded into white flames.

With two of the Nine now banished, the northern group of rangers mustered their courage and pressed on against the Undying. His hate kindled by yet another failed black dart, the Dwimmerlaik leaped upon the Dunedain, even as they assaulted the Undying. In the ensuing melee of whirling black and green cloaks one of the brave Dunedain was felled, and the rest driven back, red blood coating the Undying’s weapon.

In the south the Witch King and his two companions moved hurriedly to a gap in the hedge before them, swords drawn.

Turn 5
Evil Priority
Seeing the second mightiest of the Nazgul fall, the Knight of Umbar decided to try and make a run for it. Yet even as he sliped between the Dunedain they set upon him, swords slashing through the air. Feeling the dark magic binding him to this world growing weaker, the Tainted hurled himself forwards in a gambit to hack his way through the Dunedain. With a mighty warcry the rest of the rangers of the north charged the two Ringwraiths, hoping to bring them down. Yet even as he charged the tainted, one of the rangers clutched at his chest and fell, choking, to the ground. The terrible figure of Witch King loomed behind him, hand still outstretched after sending a black dart into the Dunedain’s heart.

Gleeful at seeing the demise of one of his enemies the Tainted drove his opponents back, but to his frustration his sword glanced off of the rangers’ sturdy leather armour. The Knight of Umbar was not so lucky. Though he parried one attack the other found its mark and the Ringwraith vanished in a plume of fire.

Hissing his hatred the Undying pressed onwards against the trio of Dunedain before him. To his annoyance the Dwimmerlaik decided to abandon him, heading westwards towards the call of the Ring. Unperturbed the Undying proceeded to astonish the Dunedain by beating all three of them back and to their horror cutting yet another of them down.

Turn 6
Good Priority
With three of the Black Riders now banished the Dunedain summoned the last of their courage and charged yet again. Three of the northmen attacked the Tainted, seeing that the wraith was growing weak. Knowing that it would likely mean his end, one of the rangers buried his fear and assailed the Witch King so as to prevent him from aiding his fellow wraith. Even as the ranger parried the Lord of Angmar’s blade, the dark shape of the Betrayer loomed out of the dusk and smote him down.

The Dark Marshal rushed past the ranger’s falling body with the goal of assisting the Tainted. But even though he beat back his adversary he was unable to draw blood and screeched in rage as the other Dunedain banished the Tainted in a rush of fire. Even as the Tainted fell, a second scream of hatred and despair filled the night as the Undying too was struck down.

His whole being consumed with hatred for the men of the West, the Witch King called for a retreat. The four remaining wraiths melted away into the darkness as night fell, leaving the Dunedain to try and tend to their fallen comrades, and mourn for those who could not be saved. This would not be enough to stop the Nazgul however; this was only a temporary setback. They would find the Ring, and kill the one who carried it.

Now that was fun! I admit that before this campaign I've only ever played sporadically, and while I understand the core rules well enough, magic is a somewhat underused tool for me. Thus it was a lot of fun to experiment with the Ringwraiths' dark powers during this game. Of course the highlight is my spectacularly short sighted positioning of the terrain that led to three wraiths being cut off from the fight for nearly the entire game. Oops. It did make things a bit closer perhaps, but I feel that it would have been fairer on the Evil Side if those hedges hadn't been there, or at least if they were shorter. Ah well, what's done is done (mainly because I was too excited to keep going and so didn't want to reset and play again).

By the end of the scenario a lot of the wraiths had been reduced to only 1 or 2 Will, though none were banished due to it running out. The Ringwraiths rolled pretty well for recovery for the most part however:

The Witch King of Angmar: 8 Will
Khamul the Easterling: 7 Will
The Dark Marshal: 6 Will
The Shadow Lord: 7 Will
The Knight of Umbar: 6 Will
The Dwimmerlaik: 6 Will
The Undying: 3 Will
The Betrayer: 6 Will
The Tainted: 5 Will

The only really bad one was the Undying, who only managed to regain 2 of the 6 will he had lost putting him at 3. For the 2nd scenario I’ll be giving The Shadow Lord a chance to redeem himself, and bringing along The Betrayer and The Dark Marshal as well.

In Scenario 2: Three is Company, Frodo, Sam and Pippin will attempt to escape the Ringwraiths on their way to Crickhollow. But though the shadow is heavy, there is a light in darkness, as the elf Gildor Inglorion senses their peril and hurries to their aid.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this battle report, and I hope you’ll be back to read the next one.


Lord of the Rings Campaign Structure

So, time for a bit of wordiness as regards the Narrative Campaign. At the time of writing I’ve already played six scenarios (we didn’t have an internet connection for the last few months so I’m only able to start posting now) the outcome of which I won’t spoil here, as I’ll be posting battle reports of each one up every fortnight so as to spread them out a bit.

The first group of scenarios make up Act 1: The Journey to Rivendell. I won’t say if Frodo (or anything of the others) made it to Rivendell or not, only that at the time of writing the Council of Elrond is in session. Should the Ring reach Rivendell, then the Fellowship will be formed to make the quest for Mount Doom and destroy it. Should the Nazgul get the Ring things will go a little differently; Aragorn and Boromir will travel to Minas Tirith via Rohan to prepare the defences, Legolas and Gimil will go back to their kingdoms to ready them for war, and Gandalf will accompany Aragorn and Boromir at least as far as Rohan. The Free Peoples will attempt one last stand against Sauron, even if the Great Ring has come into his grasp.

To put it simply this is a dynamic campaign: the outcome of one scenario will effect what happens in the next. Heroes keep a running tally of their Might, Will, Fate and Wounds and will be given an opportunity to replenish their stores between each scenario, following the rules described in the Journey Books (well, the one Journey Book I have anyway…).

A point about scenarios: I have access to a limited number that does not actually cover all of the events I want to depict, so many of them will be home grown ones based off of professional scenarios. Some will however be carbon copies of scenarios found in various sources: Sourcebooks, Rulebooks and a few from the old Battle Games in Middle-Earth magazines.

And mentioning Rulebooks I’m afraid I must confess that mine is, well, old. Very, very old. As in pre-Return of the King old. I do have bits and pieces of rules from later stuff out of Sourcebooks, BGM etc. This does mean of course that won’t be using some rules that are newer inceptions like Heroic Strikes and such. As the campaign goes on I’m hoping to get a more up-to-date rulebook, but for now I’m content to muddle my way through.

As of right now I’m not sure how I’ll be treating large scale battles. I know I won’t be playing any War of the Ring-my collection is waaaaaay to small-but I haven’t decided if I’ll play large battles as a single engagement, or as a string of scenarios. I’m thinking I may do Helm’s Deep as one large battle, but the Pelenor is likely too large and prolonged a combat to depict in a single clash of arms with the skirmish system. But the Pelenor is still some ways off, so I’m not too concerned just yet.

One last point is that I’m playing this whole thing solo, as none of my friends would want to sit around waiting for me to take down notes and take photos the whole way through each scenario. That is, if that’s of importance to anyone. Oh yeah, and this campaign is based on the books, not the films. This means no Warg Attack, no hobbits being dragged off to Osgiliath and no Elves at Helm’s Deep.

Lord of the Rings Narrative Campaign

Ash Nazg durbatuluk (One Ring to rule them all),
Ash Nazg gimbatul (One Ring to find them),
Ash Nazg thraktuluk (One Ring to bring them all)
agh burzum ishi krimpatul (and in the darkness bind them).

It is the year 3018 of the Third Age. The Shadow of the East has been growing, and even now war rages between the realm of Gondor and the armies of the Dark Lord Sauron. In these grim days Gandalf the Grey has made a discovery that will in time determine the fate of all Middle Earth. The One Ring has been found, held in the care of a mere halfling in the remote and mostly unknown land of the Shire.

But word has reached the mind of Sauron that his prize has been discovered. Even as the month of September opens the nine great servants of The Lord of the Rings begin to probe the borders of hobbit country.

Not knowing of this looming peril, Gandalf has already ridden away to the stronghold of Isenguard to meet with Saruman the White, head of the order of wizards. He leaves behind him Frodo Baggins, the hobbit in possession of the Ring, with advice to leave his home of Bagend and to make for Rivendell and the house of Elrond Half-Elven as soon as may be. Yet as Frodo and his companions (Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck) prepare for the journey to the borders of the Shire, the Nine Ringwraiths take their first steps inside of hobbit land.

Hello there! I’ve been collecting Lord of the Rings miniatures for the better part of eight years now, and for many of these years I have had a particular goal in mind: to play a narrative campaign that runs from the Fellowship of the Ring all the way to the final battle at the Black Gates. Every time I’ve ever really thought about doing it I have always found these excuses to stop me: I don’t have the time and I don’t have the terrain and the models (or the money and skill to get them).

Recently however I happened upon the most excellent narrative campaign by Celevue over on the One Ring forums (and I give full credit of inspiration to him). This got me hankering for a campaign of my own again, but of course the big reasons as to why I could not possibly do it flared up like a rash. I could never build amazing battlefields like that, or field the participants: I don’t even have nine Ringwraiths! This time though I said to myself in newborn adult wisdom (much sarcasm intended): “you don’t need all that snazzy rubbish! Do it with what you have!” And so I said to myself “I will.”

I expected my motivation to peter out by the time First Semester began, but to my surprise I am still going. Thus far I have played six scenarios, built a series of ruins, repainted my five Ringwraiths, four hobbits and most of my Uruk-hai scouts. Granted there’s still a lot more to be done but I am feeling very optimistic about how far I may get with this. I would very much like to go all the way to the fires of Mount Doom, but there is no guarantee of that. Still, I have stepped into the road, so let us see where it sweeps me off to!