Wargames > Mageknight

Varus, Captain of the Fulminata Legion

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Here's a bit of fluff surrounding a battle report; it was a 1.0 game, pre-ML nerfing. This took much longer to write than I thought it would, but I hope you enjoy it ;)

   The autumn sun turned the Atlantean procession into a sea of fire, its light dancing off of the gold of the banner and the captain’s Altem armor and the silver of the scorpem and of the Amotep’s lightning cannons. While those assembled could barely fill a small barracks, they carried themselves with the pride of a legion – they were, after all, a squad of the Specials cohort of the mighty Fulminata legion. The pride and joy of the Guild, and the whole Empire, thought Varus, captain of the squad, surveying his troops from the back of his scorpem. To tell the truth, Varus felt a pang of indignation, and even embarrassment to see his squad tainted with some of the rabble from the rest of the Land; born and bred on Delphane, Varus had the true imperial hierarchy of races and cultures firmly established in his mind.

   The group made good time; Varus couldn’t quite move his scorpem at full speed for fear of losing most of his command, but the troops on foot were moving briskly. “Not bad,” thought Varus, “but certainly not up to pace of those Rivvenheim blue-bloods.” Even though Fairhaven was far behind and well out of site, Varus knew it would be several more days of marching through relative wilderness before his troops reached their destination. Just the thought of that much walking made Varus stiff, and so in futile defiance of that notion he promptly jumped out of his scorpem to stretch his legs, and walk with the troops.

   He quickly fell into stride with the formation of Amotep gunners that formed the core of his command. There were three young men: Marcus and his cousin, Jorael, both from Atlantis, and Carotep, of Caero. Marcus and Jorael had gone through the Atlantean Academy of Tactics and Technomancy together, where they both excelled. They came from a long military family, one which, much like Varus himself, had spurned the more respected mage positions in the Atlantean military in favor of the thrill of more mundane combat roles – simply put, hurling spells at vampires and trolls from behind a wall of expendable Utems just wasn’t for the Caprarius family. Carotep, however, was different; rather than reaching down from the staff of the magus for the lightning cannon, he reached up from the crossbow of an Utem. He made himself out in the Blasted Lands before the Rebellion, as part of patrols forcibly discouraging the encroachment of imperial lands by orcs; there, Carotep was something of a legend, having killed a shaman with one shot from across the field, scattering the invaders at the onset of the battle and saving his hopelessly outnumbered militia from certain rout. Perhaps Carotep was occupying himself by determining how quickly the shaman they had with them would take to burn – in any case, he kept on glancing back towards the orc.

   Varus followed his gaze, and looked at Jorungar, who seemed to be deep in discussion with Varla, the Amazon man-catcher, and Ptarion, technomancer and Varus’s second-in-command. Varus fell back from the gunners and brought his scorpem in line with the technomancer. Although he felt the contempt welling up inside him at the thought of conversation with that Amazon witch and the green-skin, Varus was a commander first and an aristocrat second – he knew his troops would fight better for him if they liked him.

   “Why is it, technomancer,” demanded Varla, “that your masters in Atlantis can’t just send one of your ‘invincible legions’ to address this upstart warlord and be done with him?”

   “Doing so would involve massive troop movement through Sect, and maybe even League territory. As it is, this small squad is being put under the command of a provincial warlord loyal to Atlantis; he’s fighting Dralnar, not Atlantis. Neither Necropolis nor the Wylden would feel threatened by a skirmish between independent warlords, but neither would stand for they felt was invasion by Atlantis,” answered the technomancer, his three-legged shuffle increasing in pace as his excitement grew. “We’re already fighting this blasted Rebellion; even under normal circumstances, it would absurd to willingly open theaters against either the League or the Sect, let alone both at the same time!”

   “Sounds to me like metal-man scared,” jeered Jorungar. Jorungar was a well-built, but rather squat orc that looked more suited to the mace of a crusher or the hammer of an Ironclad than to the shaman’s healing staff he carried. His appearance was made even more absurd by the mage spawn he was leading by a leash; the ram walked beside him like a dog.

   “Indeed!” added Varla, “are your mighty legions scared of fighting tree huggers, or Sect fighters with the reflexes of a dead horse?”

   “Or dead elf,” piped in Jorungar, tugging at the leash as the ram tried to smell the roses.

   “It’s not to our advantage to waste our legions subduing our neighbors to the east and to the north,” answered Ptarion, coldly. Varus chuckled at the thought that a technomancer of the Guild was letting his pride be offended by an orc and an Amazon. Ptarion glared at him, but continued. “Simply put, we have nothing to gain in a long and bloody war against the Sect and the League, and it’s in our best interest to maintain at least the semblance of peace. It’s ridiculous to go war for the sake of a lowly provincial warlord. Besides,” he added, “if our legions are in the north and the east, they can’t continue to crush both of your friends in the west.” This Parthian shot delivered, Ptarion scuttled forward to join the gunners, leaving Varus a seething Amazon and a softly growling orc. Varus sighed, but started talking to the pair about his latest campaign against another Sect-backed warlord; the three of them could equally enjoy contemplating the dying screams of a burning vampire.

   As the sun set, Varus signaled to his troops to turn off the road and make camp for the night. They were still several days away from the base of Serpines, and there was no point tiring themselves needlessly – they had some time. Their orders were to intercept Dralnar’s force before he could effectively lay siege to Lord Treva’s settlement, allowing Treva to get the supplies and troops from other parts of his domain necessary to turn the tide of this ongoing feud. According to Treva’s scouts, however, Dralnar’s forces were slow to assemble, and Varus was promised three days in which to arrive.

   The second passed as uneventfully as the first; the roads around Fairhaven were fairly well guarded for a city as north of Atlantis-proper as it was. By the second evening, Varus could make out Treva’s lands on the horizon. The settlement seemed to be safe, and he could just see the tiny flecks of light, which he took to be sentries, moving to and fro along the town walls. On the third day, Varus marched his troops just a bit harder than usual – he wanted to make sure the fighting was far from the settlement. Keeping civilian casualties down was a main concern, for he knew that a province was only as loyal as it was protected. Around noon his troops were well east of the settlement, next to a small pond along the only road leading to Treva’s town, when Jorungar stopped.

   “What is it, shaman?” asked Varus.

   “Sect filth close. And something else. I smell it,” spat the orc. Carotep began to eye the woods around the road suspiciously.

   “Listen to him, captain. His kind cam smell real good.”

   “Alright,” said Varus, with a tint of reluctance in his voice. Commander first, aristocrat second. But still aristocrat. “Form up, and take up positions along the water.”

The scenario:
One player represents Varus, and plays as his command, while another represents Dralnar’s forces.

Armies: 200 points
   ***Scorpem Gunner
   ***Amotep Gunner x 3
   *Amazon Mancatcher
   *Ram Warrior

   Zombie Baron
   ***Warhatchett Krugg
   **Stalking Skeleton
   **Stalking Skeleton
   **Grave Robber
Placed normally.

Victory conditions:
Points as normal at the end of 50 minutes.

   Varus: 4
   Dralnar: 9
Dralnar places a 10” curtain wall in the center of the field. Varrus places a piece of deep water (8” by 6.5” to right of the wall. Dralnar places another curtain wall at a 45 degree angle to the left of the curtain wall (all directions in perspective of Varus). Varus places second piece of water behind second curtain wall.

Turn 1:
Command: 4
Baron, Krugg, and Skeletons all advance 8” towards center blocking, all in contact with Baron.

Techno-Gunner formation advances 8” towards right water, Shaman moves with them. Amazon advances 10” towards gap between center curtain and water.

The battle started slowly, with each side jockeying for position. Dralnar’s force had come out of the woods in an attempt to flanks the Atlanteans, and had caught Varus off guard, taking the opportunity to advance behind the protection of the wall at the field. Varus hated being caught off guard, and his mood only improved when he asked Ptarion for intelligence about the enemy.

“You’re not going to like this,” warned the technomancer, his eyes glowing blue as he mentally connected to the Grand Library in Atlantis. “That’s no normal zombie in the middle there, he appears to be a powerful wizard. In fact, I can feel his protective spell – we won’t be able to shoot him.”
“Terrific,” spat Varus. “Alright troops, it looks like we’re going to have to do this the old fashioned way. If you have a shot, you take it – we won’t get many. We’ll have to get in close and cut off his supply of undead. But whatever you do, DO NOT kill the lead zombie before we at least injure the smaller necromancer. As always, protect the technomancer and the shaman at all costs!” This strategic address delivered, Varus ordered the Amoteps, the Ptarion, Jorungar, and Varla ahead.  

Turn 2:
Command: 3
Robber advances 8” to left of Baron. Shade advances 12” to edge of center blocking.

Ram Warrior bases Technomancer, Scorpem advances 10” to right of formation.

Varus saw the secondary necromancer advance closer towards the collision point, and grinned, thinking that getting to him might not be so hard after all. The mage spawn that advanced towards him, barely a wisp of smoke and a breath of cold air, didn’t scare him either, but he knew it would be a hindrance that would have to dealt with at some point. His main concern, however, were the undead behind the wall, so he urged his scorpem closer to their enviably protected position. He knew the wall would have to be taken, but at what cost? Meanwhile, Ptarion ordered the ram to his side. Varus smiled at the thought of the missile the technomancer was soon to make of the little thing, and didn’t envy it its squishy end.  

Turn 3:
Command: 6
Baron, Skeletons, and Krugg advance right up against center wall, slightly to the right.

Gunners and Shaman advances 8” towards gap between right water and center wall, leaving Technomancer. Amazon advances 8”, staying ~2” in front of Gunners, to right.

   “My lord,” called out the Grave Robber as the Zombie Baron commanded his skeletons and krugg bodyguard closer to the center of the field, “is that wise, coming so close to that Atlantean rabble?”

   “Do you doubt me?” replied the Baron, his voice scarcely more than a moan. While undeath had amplified his powers tremendously, it had left his body a shadow of its former self. Centuries ago, whatever this Zombie used to be may have been handsome, but now he was little more than a bit of meat clinging to a skeleton a thousand years older than the thousand-year old robes he wore. “These Atlanteans are far too dependent on their false lightning to pose a true threat to us. Isn’t that right, my pets?” The skeletons on either side of him nodded their silent approval. Products of the Baron’s experiments, these skeletons had sickles of bone in place of hands, and moved with the rapidity of lightning; they were designed with one purpose: to hunt and kill.  

   Meanwhile, Varus directed his Amoteps and supporting shaman closer to the Baron’s position, while Varla covered their approach.

Turn 4:
Command: 6
Robber advances 8” towards left water.

Ram advances 8”, Technomancer flings 10”, Ramming the Krugg and basing the Shade.

   Varus noted the position taken by the second necromancer; he would have to split his forces to effectively pursue both necromancers, something he wasn’t willing to do before the Baron had committed his skeletons. He turned back to look at Ptarion, who apparently had his own plans. Ptarion had ordered the ram to charge, something the spawn didn’t understand given the distance between him and his enemies, but did so nonetheless. The technomancer surprised both the ram and the necromancers, however, when his hands began to glow blue, as he pulled the ram into the air, and hurled him mid-charge into the Baron’s retinue. Varus heard a sickening crunch as the ram’s skull ploughed into the krugg’s yak’s knee, causing the creature to let out an enraged bellow.

Turn 5:
Command: 1
Shade attempts to break, rolls 3, spins to face Ram. Krugg successfully breaks (6), moves 9”, Baron flings into two Gunners, Ramming both. Skeletons advance, one bases Amazon, other uses Skeleton-Amazon melee as cover from Gunners.

Two Gunners in base with Krugg do close combat formation, need 6 to hit, roll 7, Krugg takes 3. Amazon attempts to break, rolls 1. Scorpem advances towards right water to get second Skeleton in range.

   “Assault their position,” ordered the Baron. The skeletons quickly complied, one charging into Varla and the other using the melee to hide from the lightning cannons of the gunners. The shade was less successful, however, as the ram held it engaged – he could only turn to face the ram, but could not escape him. The krugg had better luck, as he tore away from the ram and charged towards the gunners. The Baron then imitated the technomancer’s maneuver as he willed the Krugg into the air, sending him into Carotep and Jorael. “That’s how it’s done, Atlantean scum!”

   Jorael and Carotep were quick to respond; while Jorael made a feint at the yak’s exposed flank, Carotep fired point-blank and connected, the lightning blast nearly knocking the krugg off of his mount. Varla attempted to disengage the skeleton, but was held fast by its terrible bone blades. Cursing, she turned to Varus, with a glare that demanded his intervention. Varus nodded, and moved into position to let loose a blast of lightning at the second skeleton. His squad would make Dralnar think twice before attacking Guild territory again!

Turn 6:
Command: 5
Krugg pushes to attack center Gunner, needs 7, rolls 10, Gunner takes 3. Shade pushes to attack Ram, needs 6, rolls 4.

Ram breaks, rolls 1, spins to face Shade. Amazon pushes to attempt to capture Skeleton, needs 6, rolls 7, Dodge is 5.

   The krugg didn’t take kindly to being fried in his own armor, and turned his attention to Carotep. With a mightly bellow, the humanoid brought his axe down hard, aiming for the Atlantean’s head. Carotep brought his cannon up into a blocking position quickly enough to avoid decapitation, but slowly enough that the axe skidded down the barrel of his cannon, and embedded itself in his shoulder. The ram had better luck, as he managed to dance out the way of the shade’s swipe.

   Varla, who had had enough of running, attempted to ensnare the skeleton engaging her with her mancatcher. The attack was fast enough to penetrate the skeleton’s clumsy parry, but nevertheless the skeleton managed to roll out of the way. As Varla cursed again Varus began to worry: what were they dealing with here?

Turn 7:
Command: 6
Skeleton attacks Amazon, needs 4, rolls 5, hits for 2. Second Skeleton bases badly injured Amotep and healthy Amotep. Baron advances around right side of curtain wall, bringing formation and Amazon in range.

Gunners basing Krugg formation attack, need 5, roll 10, hit for 3. Last Gunner attacks Skeleton, needs 5, rolls 10, Dodge is 3, Skeleton takes 3.

   Varla’s curses were soon followed by a sharp grunt of pain – the skeleton had slashed at her with its terrible blades, and had made a nasty gash across her stomach. The second skeleton, sensing the blood and the battle, moved to engage Carotep and Marcus, hoping to finish off Carotep before he could bring his lightning cannon to bear again. The Baron, content with the situation, advanced to bring the Atlantean force in range of his own magic.

   Jorael, anxious for Carotep, managed to land a blow on the krugg with the butt of his cannon, nearly felling the humanoid and his yak. Marcus, also worried about Carotep, aimed his cannon at the skeleton engaging him, and fired. The skeleton tried to whirl out of the way, but was too slow: the blast singed its cloak and charred its bones, and nearly knocked it to the ground.

Turn 8:
Command: 1
Krugg breaks, rolls 4, moves 5” to left, out of arc of two Gunners. Baron pushes to fire at Rammed but healthy Gunner, needs 3, rolls 10, Gunner takes 3.

Ram attempts to break, rolls 5, Rams Baron. Healthy Gunner pushes to attack injured Skeleton, needs 3, rolls 12, Skeleton dies.

   The krugg, sensing his end was near, pulled away from combat, and limped out of the gunners’ line of fire, and opening the melee for the Baron to let loose a blast of his own dark fire at Jorael, scorching and burning away parts of his leather armor. Hearing Jorael’s cry of pain, the ram turned and saw the black fire still burning at the end of the Baron’s staff. Heedless of his own safety, the ram rushed headlong into the Baron – if he were smart enough to talk, the ram might have said he just felt lucky – and crashed his thick skull into the Baron’s back, eliciting a snarl from the zombie, who promptly whipped around to face this new threat. Cheered by the ram’s bravery and enraged by Jorael’s wounds, Marcus fired again the skeleton, ignoring the overheating warnings of his cannon. To Marcus’s delight, the skeleton collapsed into a pile of ashes and charred bones.

Turn 9:
Robber Necromances Skeleton, Skeleton advances 10” through gap between walls towards Gunners. Other Skeleton attacks Amazon, needs 2, rolls 6, Amazon takes 2.

Shaman heals center Gunner, needs 4, rolls 8, heals for 1. Scorpem Bounds between Amazon and formation to shoot new Skeleton, needs 5, rolls 6, Dodge is 5.

   Marcus’s victory was short lived, however, as the necromancer in the rear conjured the destroyed skeleton back into existence. The skeleton, hungry for blood and revenge, charged right back into the fray. The second skeleton, becoming annoyed at Varla’s continued existence, dug his blades into her once more, bringing her to her knees. Jorungar, seeing the squad’s right flank collapsing as Varla came closer and closer to death, attempted to fortify their center by healing Carotep. The healing spell was true, but the influence of the necromancers’ magic reduced its efficacy; Carotep’s wounds only stopped bleeding, but did not close. Also noting the sad condition of his right flank and center, Varus urged his scorpem between the gunners and Amazon. “This had got to stop!” he roared, as he fired his own lightning gun at the newly resurrected skeleton. The skeleton, however, spun out of the way of the attack, and Varus’s lightning bolt only managed to singe the already ragged cloak it wore. It turned to Varus, its empty eyes laughing at him. Varus clenched his fists, and prepared to make his next move.

Turn 10:
Baron attacks Ram, needs 4, rolls 11, hits Ram for 2. Shade bases Scorpem.

Technomancer bases Scorpem and healthy Gunner. Amazon attempts to break, rolls 1.

   The Baron, enraged by the ram that had cost him a killing blow against Jorael or Carotep, brought his staff down hard on the poor spawn, knocking it nearly senseless. Hoping to stop the flow of lightning, the Baron directed the shade to engage Varus. Seeing his commander so harassed, Ptarion ran forward, ready to assist either Varus or Marcus with his magic. Varla, sensing her own death approaching, tried one last time to escape the skeleton, but again was prevented in her escape. Her doom certain, she turned to the skeleton with composure, and brought her mancatcher in as strong a defensive stance as she could muster with her wounds. The first time since he had met her, Varus felt a swell of respect for Varla.

Turn 11:
Skeleton bases two weak Gunners. Skeleton attacks Amazon, needs 3, rolls 7. Dead Amazon. Shade pushes to attack Scorpem, needs 7, rolls 6.

Center Gunner attempts to break, rolls 3. Healthy Gunner advances 7” towards Robber, but gets Krugg in arc.

   The newly created skeleton stayed on course, engaging both Carotep and Jorael, menacing the two wounded men and protecting itself from another volley for lightning from Varus. The second skeleton, knowing as well as Varla that her death was at hand, and brought his scythes up and down one last time. She fell down, as her head rolled across the field. Using the skeletons’ distraction to his advantage, Marcus ran across the combat towards the secondary necromancer, bringing both the crippled krugg and the still-protected Baron in his line of fire.

Turn 12:
Baron attacks Ram, needs 3, rolls 7, dead Ram. Krugg skirts out of Gunner’s arc.

Scorpem attacks Shade, needs 5, rolls 6, Shade takes 3. Technomancer flings Scorpem into Baron’s rear arc.

   The Baron took great relish in the impact of his staff made as it snapped the ram’s neck; he loved the sound and feel of dying heroes. The krugg, still seeking to survive this ordeal, half-dragged half-guided his dying mount out of Marcus’s line of fire. Varus took the opportunity to vent his frustration by smashing the butt of his gun into the shade; he probably enjoyed the feel as much as the Baron enjoyed the death of the heroic ram.

   Suddenly Varus had an idea. “Throw me!” he ordered Ptarion. Nodding, the technomancer flung Varus in the direction he was pointing: into the Baron’s back.

Turn 13:
Skeleton attacks center Gunner, needs 3, rolls 9, Gunner takes 2. Baron pushes to fling Scorpem into other Skeleton.

Center Gunner breaks, rolls 4, moves 3” behind engaging Skeleton. Shaman heals, needs 3, rolls 7, heals for 4.

   Almost afraid, the Baron spent the last his protective magic to throw Varus into one of his skeletons. While Varus knew he could expect the bite of bone claws, he almost laughed for joy as he saw the Baron once finally targetable. At the other end of the field, the other skeleton lashed out at Carotep again, sinking his claw into the gunner’s chest. Carotep ground his teeth in agony, but didn’t let a noise escape his lips: he would die with the honor of a true Atlantean soldier.

   Varus, disoriented from his recent time as a projectile, managed to make out Carotep’s predicament. “Carotep, fall back!”

   “But… but sir…” weakly protested Carotep, his voice fading.

   “That’s an order!”

   Carotep gathered the last of his strength, and rolled under the skeleton’s claws, and Jorungar took the chance to cast another healing spell. With the magic of the necromancer spent, the healing spell was more effective this time, and Caroteps wounds closed completely. Refreshed, Carotep leveled his cannon at the skeleton engaging Jorael, ready to lend a hand.

Turn 14:
Skeleton attacks Scorpem, needs 5, rolls 5, Scorpem takes 2.

Gunner away from formation takes a shot at Baron, needs 7, rolls 7, Baron takes 3. Scorpem breaks, rolls 6, moves between Skeleton and center Gunner so he can be healed by the Shaman.

   With most of his troops spent, the Baron ordered the skeleton engaging Varus to attack. Varus took cover behind the steel of his scorpem as best he could, and the mount did take the brunt of the damage – Varus got away with only a fairly shallow cut on his shoulder. The real damage was to the foreleg of the scorpem itself; Varus could tell it wouldn’t be nearly as mobile as he needed it to be. Hoping that Jorungar’s magic would work as well on metal as it did on flesh, so pulled away from the skeleton. Over the screeching of his scorpem’s mangled leg, Varus heard Marcus call out, “I have a shot!”

   “Take it! Take it!” barked Varus, expecting to see the skeleton he had torn away from to burst into flame at any second. He heard the discharge, but the skeleton was unharmed turning around, he saw the Baron down on one knee, smoke rising from his slumped form.

   “That was for Jorael!” cried Marcus.  

Turn 15:
Skeleton attacks weak Gunner, needs 3, rolls 5, Gunner takes 2. Baron moves behind corner of wall so Gunners can shoot him but he can shoot the Scorpem.

Crippled Gunner breaks, rolls 6, moves 2” behind Shaman. Shaman heals Scorpem, needs 7, rolls 4.

   The fight was far from over; the skeleton engaging Jorael left a nasty gash across the young gunner’s chest, and Baron ducked behind the cover of the center wall, gaining protection from Marcus while still keeping Varus in his sights. Jorael managed to limp away from the skeleton, and took refuge behind Jorungar, who let out a war cry and prepared to charge the skeleton. “Jorungar!” shouted Varus, distressed lest his shaman should impale himself on the skeleton’s claws. “Stand down! We need your magic!” Jorungar snarled, but turned to Varus and cast a healing spell. Perhaps it was his anger, but the spell died before it reached Varus. Varus sighed, but at least he still had his shaman.


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