I’ve been a massive fan of narrative battle reports, with just a little bit of tactical stuff, since picking up my first White Dwarf in the early nineties. Hence, in part, the blog. I was introduced to Burrows and Badgers about a year and a half ago. Oathsworn’s offering is pretty powerful; characterful miniatures, a simple and engaging ruleset and consistently high quality in everything they do. I haven’t played as much as I would like, but Warren Percy (the new two player campaign) seems like a great opportunity to change that. So, with my mainly mole mob, the Velvet Underground, it’s time to seek out new adventures in Northymbra.
The first scenario, the Hiring Fair, is divided into 3 mini games. Though short, they each create a great narrative so I will give a blog post to each of them. In the first mini game there are 5 dummies in the centre of the table and the warbands have to destroy them as quickly a possible.
Skills and equipment listed are in addition to any the creatures have naturally.
Velvet Underground (Free beasts)
Jasper Garotte (mole leader) – light armour, sword, blunderbuss, 4 lots of superior black powder
Cardinal Burrowsdeep (mole second) – gifted (natural magic), lightening
Maria (mole) – sword, light armour, light shield
Anya (mole) – cure
Felix (mole) – 2 hand axes, 2 lots of pain poison
Pedro (mole) – zweihander sword, light armour
Rex (honorary mole, actual massive hound) – mace, light shield, light armour, mace, magic ring level 1 speed
The Severed Claw (Wild beasts)
Sir Shrewsalot (shrew knight errant leader) – sword, light armour, light shield, lance strike
Orm the Toothless (small bird second) – sword, crossbow, buckler, light armour, 1 broadhead arrow, fast shot
Jo-Zerker (shrew) – axe, light armour, light shield
Bufo Rhin (toad) – axe, mage’s pouch, elf bolt
Shrewbert (shrew) – sword, light armour, light shield
The five dumpkins, an awkward combination of sticks, sacking, root vegetables and straw that couldn’t conceivably be mistaken for anything other than an awkward combination of sticks, sacking, root vegetables and straw, had been assembled in the middle of the heath. Rex stood alone, as was so often the case before any type of confrontation, staring beyond them at the motley crew of assorted beasts gathered on the other side. He strained his eyes, closed them, shook his head a little and blinked them open. In the midst of the group a pennant fluttered in the breeze. As the members of the warband started to fan out, aligning themselves roughly to a dumpkin each, it became apparent the pennant was attached to a lance, held by what appeared to be a fully armoured shrew riding a stag beetle.
Rex stifled a giggle at the sight of the buffed and polished little creature as it wheeled around neatly to face the far right dumpkin. What will these little’uns think of next? But as he hefted his shield into place and felt the reassuring weight of his mace in his paw, a hazy memory floated through his mind. Somewhere in between the drinking and brawling of his old life, before he had been welcomed into the Underground, there had been stories. Hushed conversations, and rumours, and information on the good authority of the less than sober, passed on by the even less than sober. Somewhere amongst the mess that passed for his memories there were tales of a knightly order of shrews dedicated to slaying the massive beasts of Northymbra; but it was just a story, hopefully. He pushed the memory away as he noticed a small hole opening up in front of the central dumpkin and something metallic glinted in the freshly exposed sunlight.
Sir Shrewsalot cantered, or the closest approximation one can undertake on a stag beetle, to the right of the heath. He steadied his mount. On the far side of the dumpkins the shrew could see moles in various styles of battle gear climbing out of their tunnels, preparing to cover the remaining distance to their targets. He started to ride forward. There was the ear-splitting bang of a black powder weapon being discharged. He continued, mount and rider unphased by the loud crack.
He glanced, for just a moment, towards a massive hound in the distance that seemed to be staring at him as only a dumb dog could.
“Let’s make this look good.” Sir Shrewsalot said to his mount, “It’s good for petulant pooches to witness the art of combat as it should be. Precise and elegant, rather than the clumsy thrashing around they seem to think passes for skill at arms.”
He returned his focus to the dumpkin, lowered his lance and spurred his mount to a charge. The lance and stag beetle’s antlers hit the not-quite-a-scarecrow at the same time. The impact caused the thing to explode. Cloth ripped, root vegetables flew through the air. The dumpkin was no more.
“Verily.” Quoth the knight, “That is the appropriate means by which one attains victory, whilst concurrently demonstrating and educating the colossal canine classes.”
Whilst Sir Shrewsalot educated Rex, Orm The Toothless relaxed on a bale of hay that had been set down to show combatants the area in which the trials would take place. Preferring to fight at a distance, ideally from a comfortable perch, he loaded his crossbow rapidly firing off a pair of bolts. Both hit the target square in, what someone with the best of intentions had probably meant to be, the head. Starting to whistle a ditty he couldn’t remember the words for he reloaded the crossbow. This time the bolt was longer than the previous ones, with a tar-soaked rag wrapped around it. He lit it using a stick and nearby oil lantern that had, until this point burnt inexplicably at his feet. He squeezed the trigger. Seconds later flames ignited in the probably-was-intended-to-be-a-head of the dumpkin and the smell of roasting turnip mixed with the smell of burning straw.
The first bang rolled out across the heath and several shards of assorted metal embedded themselves in the central dumpkin. The haphazard structure of the dumpkin was certainly shaken by the shot, but there was undoubtedly an argument it had also been strengthened in the process. Jasper Garrotte lowered his blunderbuss and started the well rehearsed process of reloading. It was only when he returned the weapon to his shoulder to take aim once again that he saw Shrewbert making a dash for the target, sword raised. Smirking at the thought of reducing the target to dust before the little creature’s eyes he pulled the trigger. There was a clunk, followed by a phlut. Jasper swore under his breath, before taking solace that the shrew was charging at the dumpkin and not him. To his right he heard the familiar battle cry of his comrade Pedro. He turned and watched as the mole warrior raised his zweihander above his head.
Shrewbert made it to the dumpkin first, stabbing at it with his sword. Seconds later the dumpkin collapsed as Pedro’s massive blade sliced through the base of the post holding it up. Pedro found himself face to face with the shrew as it worked through the events in its head. The old mole was sure he noticed a look of disappoint on Shrewbert’s face as it became apparent Pedro would take credit for destroying this dumpkin.
After his momentary uncertainty at the presence of the shrew knight, Rex ran forward as the rest of his crew emerged from their holes. The moles might not have been the fastest, or most aggressive of fighters but their enthusiasm, combined with the mobility their tunnels afforded, meant he often felt he was the last to every fight. Keen to get stuck in he headed towards the nearest dumpkin where Bufo was readying to swing. Rex worked his legs as hard as he could, hoping to land a killing blow like Pedro had before him. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Rex’s blow landed before the toad’s obliterating the left side of the dummy, but it was not enough to claim a victory. Rex growled, trying to recover as quickly as possible and launch another furious blow. The toad, by contrast seemed so relaxed, winking at Rex he let his axe fall. The timing was perfect. The single, simple blow collapsed what remained. Bloody shamans.
Jo-Zerker ran up to the final dumpkin and started hacking away. Emerging from his hole Felix watched the shrew busying away. He watched the axe falling and rising, carefully choosing his moment. As the dummy started to sway he sauntered over and slammed his stone axes into the back of the dumpkin. The force of the blows redirected the swaying dummy, causing it to fall onto the surprised shrew. Felix retrieved his axes as the shrew screamed out a volley of curses and abuse, pinned under the dumpkin.
As the dust settles
This is a very straight forward scenario that the Velvet Underground scraped a 1 point win. Not surprisingly, there are no great tactical takeaways, but it illustrates perfectly the depth and strong sense of narrative Burrows and Badgers creates. Now let’s see if the spell casters are ready.