Friday, 19 May 2017

The Year of the Badger

Book 1 of The Eye of the Raven

The badger is a creature that is much pressed upon, yet which when cornered fights back strongly, often this gaining the upper hand on its many adversaries. Just like Norse Gaels.

The action during Campaign Season 1

Sing, o skald, your tale of old
Of those six years when warlords boldly
Fought to rule the land.
A time of rival conquerors
Who strove for kingship over all
To take the upper hand.

Anglo-Sax and Anglo-Dane
Contest England's divided plain,
Their armies poised for war.
While in the mountains Welsh and Scots
Contrive their own ambitious plots
Of conquest over all.

Across the sea, Norman and Frankish
Lords consult with men of rank
To justify their ruling right;
Despite the backing of the pope
Their claims, they know, are based on hope.
So they prepare to fight.

The Irish king kneels down to pray
That not long now will come the day
That he shall rule o'er all.
While on the isles at the world's edge
Hairy Viking warlords pledge
To pillage, raid and steal.

Amidst them all, a Norse Gael tribe
That claimed the hills about Strathclyde
Appeared the one to beat.
It's warlord Leif of little might
(He'd never won a single fight)
Was seen as easy meat.

The Scots played out ambitious plans
Advancing toward Norse Gael lands,
Attempting to invade there.
But Lucky Leif had made a pact
And his Oathsworn was the first to act,
Raiding Scots Dalraida.

Gunnblasdt's Vikings, keen to fight
Attacked the Scots before they might
Into Norse Gael lands come.
Their warbands fought across a burn,
But Icelanders were forced to turn
And run away back home.

Undeterred, the Scots advanced -
Considering the Norse Gaels pants
Against a foe as strong in size.
But they were met at mountain pass
And kicked quite sorely up the arse
Much to their surprise.

Leif, enthused by his success
Sent a warband to oppress
The Danes across the sea so blue.
They sneaked across the Danish plain
Returning, herd of cows obtained
Before the Danes could even moo.

The Danes were raiding elsewhere though,
Against their blood-sworn Irish foe
Conn Cétchathach, Irish chief.
They disappeared as fast they came
The Irish could not stop them gain
Their cut of Irish beef.

Thence back to Lucky Leif, at pains
To defend his land from Anglo Danes
Attacking down a mountain slope.
They battled hard and battled strong
But Anglo Danes did not last long
Before they gave up hope.

Finally, near winter tide
A Welsh warband raided Strathclyde
In search of vulnerable sheep.
Though finding only herds of cow
They did their business anyhow
And went back home complete.

Meanwhile Norman, Norway Vike,
Frank and Anglo-Sax alike
Took no part in this year's action.
So at the end of season one
With this year's battles all now done

The Norse Gaels are the leading faction.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Eye of the Raven

Eye of the Raven - Campaign Map

The Eye of the Raven watches over all, as plots are hatched, jealous raiders look across the seas and invaders make their plans for conquest.

At the start of our campaign eleven factions are poised for conquest. On the mainland of England, a fragile peace exists between the Anglo-Saxons in the south and, within the Danelaw, the Anglo-Danes. Northumbria, isolated, remains under the protection of the queen of the Anglo-Saxons. To the west, the land is threatened by the restless Welsh, while the wild Scots who occupy the mountainous lands to the north are an ever-present threat to more civilised lands. Between them lie the Norse Gaels in the mysterious hills of Strathclyde, while across the Channel, to the distant south, ambitious Normans and Franks look to expand their own empires. And watching all of this, jealous Warlords from the island kingdoms far across the seas - the Irish, and three nations of Vikings - arm themselves to raid and plunder wealthier foreign lands.

 And so, the struggle to find the King of all the Lands begins...

At the beginning of Part II of the Saga of Sagas, a great scholar again writes:

"Our Saga of Sagas now moves on, this time its tale expanding to the islands around Britain and as far as Iceland. Once more, its heroic narrative tells of the struggle for power between dark age warlords, some of whom we have met before in earlier tales."


And so this intermittent blog continues as a new Saga campaign at Wycombe Warband begins. This time, our campaign uses reules modified from Age of the Wolf, incorporating the campaign map shown above. All the details are posted at Enjoy!

- Basculf the Unwashed, writing on the first day of the new Campaign

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Le Chanson de Bob - Chapter IV

Many months have passed
Since last we sang
Of Robert Eponge
And his cheesy Breton knights

And in that long time
The people of Brittany have celebrated
A lot
With feasting,
Substantial cheese consumption
And an excess of wine,
Curious liqueurs,
Crème de coing,
And even the nasty stuff that people in this part of the world call beer

So much so
That the hangover of the Bretons
Lasted even longer than the celebrations.

But a few of those
Who survived the party
Recalled the exploits of their hero
Robert Eponge
And the battle they won
Which is scribed here by our skald
Basculf the Unwashed
Recalling the tale
As best as anyone can remember
Filling in gaps in memory
With suitably apocryphal embellishment

It was on an open field
On the borders of Brittany
That a force of brave and particularly hairy Vikings
(Not for the first time)
And their Warlord
Einar Jonatansson
(That's right, the other one with the saga written in this blog)
Were met by Robert's brave Bretons

Einar Jonatansson
Unlike certain other leaders of hairy Viking factions
(see Chapter II)
Was very much not unready
Although he did make it clear he wasn't particularly happy about the openness of the terrain, the fact that he was facing Bretons, and various other matters, while his skald took notes, just in case.

The fearless Bretons, however
Might in this case themselves have been considered unready
For they were unfamiliar with recent changes
That had been made to the code of battle
The message evidently failing to reach them
(Or more likely they had not read their email or looked at Facebook recently)

And hence
Their order of battle proved particularly poorly thought out
Fielding one very large unit of knights
That after deployment realised they had left their War Banner at home

Thought Robert Eponge
Taunted Einar Jonatansson
Jeered the hairy Viking horde
Wrote Einar Jonatansson's skald
Thought the banner bearer
Who understood that someone
Was in for a good slapping
(Probably him)
And would have said
"It's not my fault!"
But for the fact that
It was

The hairy Vikings charged
The Bretons fled, shooting
The hairy, sweating Vikings charged again
The Bretons scattered, shooting
The hairy, sweating, tired Vikings charged once more
But the Bretons would not be caught
And shot them again
And again

Though war-banner-less
The speed of the Breton horsemen
Aided by the openness of the battlefield
Combined with their use of the incredibly cheesy In All Directions ability
Meant the Vikings
Hairy, sweating and slow
Could not catch them

Jeer as they might
They were slowly
(Slower than if the Bretons had brought their War Banner, at least)
Picked off by relentless Breton javelins

The Vikings
And incredibly frustrated with this most irritating enemy
(Though not by any means disgraced)
Were considered defeated

The Viking skald was politely informed of precisely what would happen to him if he wrote about this in the Saga of Einar Jonatansson
And the Vikings called it a day and went home

As said above
With his final victory
There was much rejoicing in the land
King Bob was proclaimed
The greatest of all Warlords
And the Bretons
Were declared
The cheesiest
Of all factions
(Excepting House Rules and/or changes in the official FAQ)
The least likely to be invited to take part in future campaigns

At last
Our saga comes to an end

Thanks be to God


There is some talk
Of Robert Eponge
And his Breton knights
Turning up at a tournament somewhere
So as to demonstrate to the world
The power of Breton cheese

Well, you never know…

Monday, 9 May 2016

Le Chanson de Bob - Chapter III

In which we speak of events that unfolded after the Battle of Ubba's Mound, of the restoration of the confidence of the people of Brittany in their Lord Robert Eponge, and of his further adventures against the enemies of that fair land.

And so it was that
Robert Eponge returned home
Travelling through his lands

Before him
Word had spread
Of the battle at Ubba's Mound
Of the worthy deeds of the Breton knights
And of their great victory over the Vikings

The people of Brittany rejoiced
(The concerns they had previously expressed conveniently put aside)
And there was celebration throughout the land

Fine wine was uncorked
Tables were laden with all good things
Including many smelly cheeses
And the people feasted

Church bells rang
Choirs sang
All gave praise to God
And Robert Eponge
Lord of Brittany
Found his authority considerably improved

Word of these events spread
Even into other lands
Of that battle
Of the exploits of the Breton knights
Of the scattering of the hairy invaders
And of Ubba's humiliation

And the enemies of Brittany were filled with dread

Robert Eponge
(His reputation going before him)
Travelled throughout his lands
Visiting towns and villages
Showing his presence
Basking in glory
And collecting outstanding taxes that had previously been withheld

So, as the daylight began to fade
Approaching one such hamlet
The army of Robert Eponge
(Which was scattered over a fairly wide area)
Encountered a new enemy

Hiding behind a building

A small force of Anglo-Danes
(Their army was also spread about the land)
A band of rough peasant archers
And armoured spearmen
Tall swarthy Saxlanders
Chosen men
Protectors of their Lord
Thorvald Heldigson
Known by reputation
From Miklagard to Aarsborg
As among the bravest of leaders
Most warlike in manner
Greatest of victors
Mightiest of Warlords
Who had never known defeat

Hiding behind a building

Word was sent by both leaders
To their armies, to gather at this place
A small hamlet, tucked between rocky ground and fields
On the borders of Brittany

The army of Robert Eponge
Deployed in open ground
The brave knights of Patrick Etoile
Arrayed beneath the banner of Brittany
On the left flank
As usual
Protecting Robert himself
On the right

The army of Thorvald Heldigson
In tight formation
Archers inside the building
Arrows notched, ready to shoot
Huscarls behind
Protecting their Lord

And so the armies stood for a while
Facing each other
Sort of
With a building between them

Anglo Danes
Wary of the reputation of their enemy
Waiting for reinforcements
Or for the Bretons to move into range of their archers
Or make some other silly tactical error

Wary of the reputation of their enemy
Waiting to see what the Anglo-Danes would do
Or for some sort of sign from Heaven
Or something
(And pretty soon coming to the realisation that their approach wasn't a particularly great winning tactic if all the Anglo-Danes were going to do was hide in the building and wait for the Bretons to do something)

The arrival of the remainder of the Breton army
One small unit of knights from the rear
One unit of Warriors beside the rocky ground to the left
(Who had travelled swiftly after receiving news of the situation)
Prompted Robert Eponge into action
Otherwise, it seemed very likely that very little would happen

The Bretons advanced
Closing down the distance
But casting their minds back to lessons learned from cheesy Norman
Sensibly keeping sufficiently far away from the enemy archers not to be shot at

More Anglo-Danish forces then arrived
Spearmen reinforcing those hiding behind the building
And more bow-armed peasants, advancing into the rocky ground

Though there was no sign from Heaven
Robert Eponge realised
The moment was now or never
To take the initiative
(Though he did momentarily consider not taking it)
The knights of Patrick Etoile advanced
Letting loose a volley of javelins
Into the building
Three peasants fell dead
And the knights backed off to what they thought was a safe distance

In that moment
The Anglo-Danes seized their chance
To counterattack
For while the knights had backed off
They had not moved far enough away
To be sure of safety

The Breton Warriors
Moving slowly past the rocky ground
Were in much the same predicament

The peasants advanced and took aim
Remaining amongst the rocks on the flank
Advancing into the open before the building.
Arrows were loosed
But with God on their side
Not a single Breton knight fell
And only two Warriors met their death

The knights then advanced
Throwing javelins once, twice
And all the peasants before the house were slain

As the last of the enemy arrived
The Bretons fell back
To positions in the open ground
Occasionally sniping at the enemy
Who remained hiding in cover

Thorvald's men hid
Praying for nightfall
Making their escape
Soon as fading light allowed

Once again
Valiant Robert Eponge
Protector of Brittany
Had seen off the enemies of that fair land
He gave arm rings to his men
And others
Dogs of War
Mercenaries from distant lands
Seeking honour and plunder
Rallied to his banner

And Robert Eponge returned in glory
To the acclaim of his people
Who, honouring his deeds
Proclaimed him Duc

Thanks be to God
Robert Eponge

Duc de Bretagne

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Le Chanson de Bob - Chapter II

In which we tell the tale of events after the attack of the cheesy Normans, of Robert Eponge's facing the army of the invader Ubba "The Unready" and his force of hairy plunder-seeking Viking raiders, and of the confrontation that is known to history as "The Battle of Ubba's Mound".

Once more we sing of brave Robert
Who, despite seeing off the cheesy Norman invader
From the borders of his land
Was now under a bit of pressure.

The cost of dispersing that barbarous foe
Had been high
Many were the brave knights of Brittany
That had fallen in that noble endeavour.
And hence many too were the people of Brittany
Who had lost sons and husbands
And who
Quite frankly
Weren't at all happy with the situation.

Questions were being asked
About Robert Eponge
About his right to rule the land
His authority to command the army
And his general level of competence.

Robert himself
Was rightly worried
He sensed his people on the brink of rebellion
And knew he had to do something about it

Worse still
This unfortunate situation
Was apparent to other jealous neighbours
And further abroad,
Even to those in distant lands
For word had spread to all corners of the world
Of the rich pickings of Brittany
There for the taking
For whoever might try
And of its weak defenders
Who could scarcely be considered the equal of warriors of any other nation
Given the rumours of their pathetic showing against the cheesy Normans

These tales reached the eager ears of one
Hairy Viking
Ambitious for glory
Hungry for adventure
Greedy for plunder
(Yet known as Unready)

But ready he made himself, and
His tall-prowed longship
With battle-ready hairy Viking crew
Soon made land on Breton shores

The Breton villagers
On spotting this foe
Were filled with dread
And fled into the hills and
(Temporarily putting aside thoughts of revolution for the time being)
Sent word to the court of Robert Eponge
Demanding help

(Who was not wholly blind to the obvious)
Saw that this was the opportunity he needed
To "do something about it PDQ"
And so
He did

The armies of Ubba and Robert Eponge
Made battle beside a mound-like hill
Open ground, a space between woodland and fields, a village to its south.
Robert faced the east, warriors to his left and right
His four household guards beside him
The twelve Machiterns of his faithful knight
Patrick Etoile
Bearing the Standard of Brittany
On his left
Preparing to charge

Opposite, facing west
Flanked by hairy warriors
Hairier Huscarls on the flanks
And really hairy Berserkers
Made hairier by the skins they wore
Beside the edge of a wood
Off to one side
Trying to be clever
Contemplating some sneaky trick

The calm was broken
Breton battle-horns sounded
Machiterns charged Huscarls
Throwing javelins once, twice, three times
Until the huscarls on that flank had all fallen dead

To their left the Machiterns then swarmed
Loosing more javelins
The trees could not protect the hairiest ones
Who all died too
And the Machiterns reformed their line.

Thought Ubba
(Who really had been unready)
And considered his options.

Briefly considering running away
(But he was too far from his ship)
He reconsidered, and
Having lost his right flank
Adjusted his battle plan
And advanced on the left instead.

Dressing their lines
Resting their horses
Robert's household knights advanced
Javelins were thrown
But Ubba's men were not deterred
And advanced, ignoring fatigue
Closing down the distance
Cornering Robert's household knights.

As resting Machiterns watched and
Warriors cautiously backed away
The cornered household knights charged
(Some thought unwisely)

Tired Viking warriors
Bravely met their foe
Thinking the odds even
They were ready

But the Bretons had a trick up their sleeve
In mid-charge, loosing javelins
At the Vikings
Who were unready

And fate had deserted them
Slaying but one Breton knight
As five of their own number fell

Charged with his huscarls
Ready or not

But the Bretons had another trick
No longer cornered
And instead of fighting, ran away

(If a little frustrated)
Threw his Warriors at Robert's household knights
Finally getting rid of them
Albeit at equal cost
And in desperation
Threw them in at the Machiterns too

But in defence the horsemen were strong
Withstanding the attack
Slaying the warriors
Sowing the ground with Viking blood

Thus Ubba
On the mound-like hill
With three brave warriors remained
And called to Odin for help
And in desperation

He fell

And thus
(So it turned out)
"Something had been done about it PDQ"

Robert Eponge
Returned home in glory

Ubba didn't

Dragged off by his three remaining men
Finally home after an extremely slow  boat trip.

The Saga of Einar Jonatansson - Chapter 2.

Moving south from the lands of the Norse Gael we entered the territory of an Irish chieftain called Finn Mac Blatha. For two days we continued south looting and burning Irish hamlets for little reward beyond a couple of red haired beauties captured and given over to my warriors for sport.

Toward mid-day of the third day our path was blocked by an Irish warband led by Finn Mac Blatha himself and intent on doing us harm.

The ground was open except for a small bog on our left rear and a large field of winter barley on the Irish left rear. I thought Mac Blatha had chosen poor ground to make his stand against me and I smiled.

Mac Blatha deployed his warband behind a thin screen of levy archers. On his far left were two units of eight warriors deployed one behind the other with their flank secured on the cropfield. In the centre stood Mac Blatha supported by two champions with six Hearthguard immediately to his right. Out on his right wing was another unit of eight warriors. I saw none of the much vaunted war dogs the Irish peasants had boasted of!
I deployed my shieldwall opposite the Irish centre with eight warriors on the left and two units of six Hearthguard on the right. I stood with the berserkers behind the shieldwall. My archers were placed further out on my right opposite the left wing of the Irish.

Mac Blatha spoke to his warriors calling them to red war against us and I saw him bestow an arm rings on one of his Hearthguard.

Not to be outdone I in turn awarded an arm ring to the leader of the Hearthguard unit that formed the right of my shieldwall. My men banged weapons on shields and screamed their war cries at the enemy.
The Irish moved first and ordered their archers forward to shoot us. I called to Odin for protection and he answered with a sudden mist that hid us from view. One of the enemy champions moved to support the warriors on the Irish left.

From the start there was Irish magic at work and for much of the fight the enemy levy were obscured by a mist that prevented my archers from shooting them. Fortunately, the Irish chieftain had made a mistake and my archers had sight on one of the warrior units deployed beyond their levy screen. By personal command I pushed my archers forward and further right before unleashing two volleys on the exposed enemy warriors and killing two.

Stung by the archery Mac Blatha ordered the remaining six warriors forward and hurled javelins at my levy but Asgard protected them from harm. The enemy warriors remained unbowed and launched themselves into melee with my archers. For the loss of two of their own my doughty archers killed two enemies and pushed them back. The Irish champion moved further forward in support of the warriors.

Invoking Ragnarok my archers shot down one more Irish warrior before I sent my right hand Hearthguard charging across the field and into the remaining three warriors. Two enemies fell for no loss and the Hearthguard continued the attack into the Irish champion. My men were tired but their leader dedicated his arm ring to Thor who answered by refreshing them with renewed vitality. The Irish champion fell in a welter of axe, sword and spear blows while my brothers remained unharmed. Loki snatched the last Irish warrior screaming from this world!

Mac Blatha was not done yet and after shooting down four of my archers with his levy sent the second warrior unit on his left forward against my triumphant Hearthguard killing one with javelins.
In response my Hearthguard attacked the warriors and after a hard fight that cost us three brave men slaughtered all the enemy warriors.

I pushed forward with my shieldwall and Berserkers.

At this moment the Gods deserted us and three of my Hearthguard fell to Irish archery. The battle hung in the balance.

The red mist descended as I lead my three Hearthguard in a final charge against the enemy archers calling on Frigg, Ullr and Thor we chopped down most of the enemy for no loss and the Irish abandoned the field to us. Thanks be to Odin.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Le Chanson de Bob - Chapter I

Being the First Chapter in the Song of Robert; in which we introduce the Hero Robert Eponge, and tell of his first battle, defending the land of the Bretons against a sneaky attack by their cheesy Norman neighbours.

Our song is of Robert Eponge,
Hero of the land of Brittany,
Of noble lineage,
Descended from the great heroes of old.
Conan, for example, was one of these
(The real one, that is, not the barbarian).

Robert Eponge, master swordsman,
Also unsurpassed in skill at spear-throwing,
As you would expect.
Spear-throwing, you understand, being a tradition of the Bretons
For which they among all people excel
(Even compared to the Welsh).

Though there are numerous tales of Bob's heroic deeds
Of his slaying of monsters
Saving damsels in distress
(And that sort of thing)
We don't need go into them here.
It stands to reason that
He is a well-respected ruler and totally worthy of the role.
Of course he is.

The proud Bretons he commands
Are a noble, peace-loving folk and generally all-round good guys.
They are the descendants of ancient peoples,
Keepers of the old traditions
And respectful custodians of their lands.
Brittany is after all a beautiful place
And, understandably, coveted by jealous foreigners.

The Bretons, therefore, have many enemies
Most of whom are, (as is often related in epic poems like this), ignorant pagans
Who have never even heard of
The Lord God Almighty,
Let alone behave like decent folk.
And who therefore deserve to be utterly wiped off the face of the earth
As is traditional for those who disagree with peace loving Christians.

The Normans that live nearby are just that sort of people.
Vagabonds, newly arrived in adjacent lands,
Strange, devil-worshipping foreigners.
They are troublesome, ambitious and greedy
And intolerant of their neighbours.
They have no respect for anyone.
They raid for plunder and conquest.
Yes they all deserve to die.

One such Norman goes by the devilish, frightening and altogether foreign-sounding name of
Who calls himself "le Roux".
(Which we believe is some kind of cheese).
He is an enemy of Brittany as well as many other nations.
His men yearn for plunder
And are jealous of the peace-loving Bretons.
Worse, they fight without honour and use cheesy tricks.

One day these troublesome Normans move to attack
The peace-loving people of Brittany,
Their evil hearts are bent on gold and loot.

News of their approach soon reaches Brittany
And as they cross the border lands and attack outlying villages
Robert Eponge comes forth to face them in battle.

The army of Robert Eponge is made of many noble horsemen.
Select knights of his household,
And a contingent of nobles led by his faithful general
Patrick Etoile,
Who ride beneath the banner of Brittany.
And as many brave warriors join them,
Having taken up spear and horse
To see off the enemy that has invaded their lands.

It is the early light of dawn.
The Normans and Bretons meet at a village on the borders of Brittany
That the enemy have already occupied, raided, plundered, looted
And eaten all the croissants.
As the sun rises and disperses the morning mist
As the armies see each other.

The Normans lurk in the village
Archers on each flank hiding in cover
(Cowering cowards)
Crossbowmen hiding in a building in the centre
(Cowardly crossbowmen)
The only few worthies,
Who may look like noble knights
But actually have the hearts of common robbers,
On horseback in the centre,
Advance, as if to attack.

The Bretons, cautious,
Remain concealed in the darkness,
Keeping away from the Norman cowards
That shoot with impunity at those they can see
from the cover of buildings and bushes

"Come out and fight, cheesy Normans"
Brave Bob challenges,
But, fearfully the enemy stays lurking,
Shooting from their hiding places,
Dealing ignoble death unfairly upon their noble adversaries.

The Norman knights advance,
But, seeing their foe before them, hesitate
And then run away.
Covered by their cowardly archers
They dare not engage brave Robert's men in noble battle.

(And, some might not unreasonably say, unwisely),
The Bretons advance.
They throw their javelins many times
And many of the enemy fall.

But, lured into the open,
The Bretons find themselves at the mercy of the cowardly archers.
Dirty tricksters who have evidently summoned the power of demons
So that they can shoot their arrows farther than is humanly possible.
Which is really not very decent of them given the range of Breton javelins.

And so many brave Breton knights and warriors fall
Slain by these cowardly arrows that come out of the darkness.

Patrick Etoile rides forth.
"Camembert!" he cries, challenging the cheesy enemy,
Leading his brave knights to the edge of the village.
The best spear-throwers of Brittany
Use all their abilities to throw javelins accurately at the enemy through windows and doors.
The dice are cast,
(A lot of them, with very good factors in their favour)
But the luck of the devil is with the enemy and only a single man falls dead.

Finally Patrick Etoile,
Leads a charge at the enemy cavalry,
The banner of Brittany flying gloriously in the wind.
Javelins fly,
Many Norman knights die,
As well as half of the enemy crossbowmen,
And the battle is even.

But the enemy is fierce in defence,
Yet more cowardly shooting
Slays the flower of Brittany,
And gives the Normans time to escape.

The raiders flee like the cowards they are.
They run back home, taking their plunder,
Seen off from the fair fields of Brittany.

The price paid has been high.
Many are the brave Breton knights that have died today
On this field of battle.
But it could have been worse.
(Oh yes).

Thanks be to God