The Grimy Jewel Campaign: Session 1 Report
It's summer in Chicago, which means we're getting our annual fantasy campaign underway once again. A vibrant fantasy campaign has been a hallmark of CSW since its inception back in 2010. As in years past, we're sticking with Song of Blades & Heroes as our primary ruleset, though some games may be played with other rulesets such as Kings of War and Open Combat.
We decided to set this year's campaign in the city of Vildeburg itself. Dubbed "the Grimy Jewel of Qaarra," the medieval city of Vildeburg is home to all manner of warbands, each one plotting and scheming to gain profit and advantage over the others.
Ironically, though, our first session took place, not in Vildeburg, but far afield in the foothills of the Valkenwrath Palisades. See, one of our members has apparently had enough of Chicago's bitter cold and endless snow, so Mattias (of the excellent Amateur Hour blog) will be relocating to sunny Hawaii in a few short weeks. To send him off in style, we quickly threw together a scenario featuring a full-scale incursion of Qaarra by an invading force of pale, dead-eyed warriors from the Wyrdwold.
The Wyrdwold, of course, is Mattias's homebrew setting, into which he has poured voluminous amounts of creativity over the course of many months and years. It was a real treat, then to see him deploy a huge force of diverse miniatures from his Wyrdwold collection onto our battlefield for the scenario.
Arrayed against Mattias's Wyrdwold warrior (roughly 1,000 points in Song of Blades & Heroes parlance) were three allied warbands: Josh's Dark Mariners, Terrence's Nameless Orcs, and Karl's Holy Warriors. Their job was to stymie the advance of the Wyrdwolders, who were pouring out of a spectral, half-glimpsed cleft 'twixt a pair of ethereal hills that served as a portal between the Wyrdwold and Qaarra.
In this pic, the Nameless horde surges over a bridge while the Dark Mariners negotiate a river in the background. Karl's holy warriors are on the far right, also about the cross the stream.
Here's a closer look at the Dark Mariners. These are newly painted, from the DeepWars game line.
Just a mess of tentacles and spearguns, wherever you looked.
In game terms, this was a pretty big game. Karl, Josh and Terrence fielded roughly 1400 points among them, and Mattias's faction received one free random monster at the start of each turn, to represent oddities from the Wyrdwold slipping through the astral portal and wreaking havoc on the opposing warbands.
On the first turn of the game, Josh's siren cast a weather spell, and a fearsome rainstorm began scouring the battlefield. As it happened, a fearsome rainstorm soon swept into Chicago, so we were able to do a little live-action roleplay later in the evenings as everyone ran out to their cars. But in the game, the rainstorm had a few measurable effects: it reduced line of sight and limited all shooting to the shortest range band. This proved important during a few key engagements!
Here's a glimpse of the battlefield as the lines edged closer together. In the mid-ground, the gigantic beast with its fists upraised is a scarp dweller from the Wyrdwold, newly arrived and mad as hell about it.
And in this pic, two mounted warriors crashed into the Dark Mariners' line in a glorious cacophony of clanging metal and slishing tentacles. In the foreground, missile troops pour fire into the periphery of the fight.
Karl's holy warriors got a bit mauled in this game. What do you expect from a group of barefoot peasants led by clerics and paladins! Here they are advancing toward a truly gruesome skirmish line of demons and mutants. That octopus is probably fleeing as fast as his little tentacles can slither.
Here's another look at the battlefield. Individual fights were breaking out all over the map as the warbands tried to flank and out-flank each other.
Oh yeah -- either Mattias or I killed Josh's siren a few turns into the game, so there was no way to turn off the rainstorm spell. It continued to rain uncontrollably for the rest of the game! OK, more pics of the action. I lost track of what was happening at this point. Maybe you can piece together the narrative from these pics.
As you can see from the pics, it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours, and a totally fitting send-off for Mattias. As it turned out, his hollow-faced raiders were driven from the battlefield, back through the thrice-cursed gateway and into the Wyrdwold, where they will presumably lick their wounds and sulk mightily.
This was an odd scenario for our first session. Next game we'll hew a bit more closely to our theme for "The Grimy Jewel." For now, I'll just leave you with one final pic from the game, showing the eventual fate of Karl's bishop guy.
Until next time!
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member