Sunday, 25 September 2011

Holy Sigmarite Empire expands borders

In 372PC the Holy Sigmarite Empire went to war again, this time with its sometime ally, the Dwarf Kingdom. The Dwarfs had been constructing their "great work" for some years, an underground canal, connecting the Pan Coron Ocean with the Great Rhun Sea, halving journey times between Mellvellon and the west. The canal had, in part, been finance by Empire merchants and even the Emperor himself, but when finished, the dwarfs, while agreeing to repay the investment with interest, refused to give the Empire fleet free access through the canal and the much hoped for preferential rates of passage were also denied.

Emperor Heinrich IV reacted angrily, accusing the dwarfs of thievery. Ill chosen words soon reached Karak Brynaz and the King of the dwarfs retaliated by refusing to pay a penny of the investment back, claiming the money as repayment for this "gross insult". Heinrich then sent an army, overland, to the northern border of the Dwarf Kingdom, intent on reclaiming the debt by force.

The war of the canal lasted but one battle however. The proud Empire army marched towards a hastily assembled dwarf throng just after dawn, and in the confusion General Ludwig was unable to correctly deploy his forces. Instead his elite infantry and cavalry ended up marching straight towards the enemy artillery. Fearsome dwarven engineering soon took its toll, and although the HSE army did not flee, the pride of Sigmarheim was cut to shreds by rocks and cannonballs.

After only two hours of battle the Empire general capitulated, surrendering his army to the dwarfs. The dwarfs accepted this surrender and banished the army from dwarven lands, and when the battered remnants returned Emperor Heinrich shut himself away, deeply embarrassed and ashamed. "I am the laughing stock of the world", he has been quoted as saying. Six weeks later he was dead, and his son Louis took the throne.

Louis, a much more pragmatic man than his father, immediately sought to restore relations with the dwarfs. Through his envoys, grovelling apologies and a great deal of flattery, he was able to secure the return of the initial Imperial investment, convincing the dwarf king to accept the destruction of the Sigmarite army as satisfaction of the dwarfs honour, rather than Imperial cash. Honour and relations restored, the canal was finally opened with great fanfare in 380PC.

Skaven rule Pan Coron Ocean

Following their unprovoked aggression at Mount Breakspear, Typhus had to face up to the possibility that the Dwarves intended to initiate a war with the Typhonian Enclave. With the long campaign against the High Elves once more tipping in favour of the Skaven, Typhus vowed through gritted fangs that the short-arsed gold fondlers wouldn't be allowed to upset his masterful plans!

The threat to Mount Breakspear had been seen off the time being but Typhus ordered the navy to increase its patrols of the waters near Karak-A-Varr and keep the Dwarven fleet at bay. Meanwhile he would press home his advantage against the accursed Elves and try to finish the war before the Dwarves could interfere.

Sure enough, the Dwarven fleet sallied forth to challenge the Enclave patrols, accompanied by a massive iron clad battleship. The Skaven admiral ordered his ships to converge on the Dwarven fleet, displaying the great cunning and supreme tactical brilliance typical of the Skaven master race by taking advantage of an archipelago of islands to conceal the positions and numbers of his ships. The ambush gave the Skaven an advantage but the Dwarves fought with irrational tenacity and resolve, punishing their enemies for every ship destroyed. Finally, isolated and stripped of its escorts the Dwarven iron clad was brought to heel and engaged by the Skaven battleship Glory of Typhus. The two behemoths began exchanging broadsides at close range and to their consternation and great surprise the Skaven got the worst of the duel. Finally, exasperated and screaming obscenities at his incompetent underlings the Skaven admiral simply rammed his flaming hulk into the Dwarven flagship and boarded it, slaughtering the crew and ending the battle.

With the Dwarven navy bottled up for the time being Typhus headed south to personally prosecute the war against the Elves of Mellvellon. For years the Skaven hordes had been halted at a narrow pass. This natural bottleneck protected the Vale of Endwe and was guarded by silent and disciplined ranks of Phoenix Guard. The sudden Skaven rush took the Elves by surprise and the garrison of the Tears of Isha was slow to respond. The decadent Elves had been staging a masked ball and in their arrogance refused to attend to the defences until the last dance finished. By the time the garrison began arriving at the pass the battle was already raging. The bottleneck had stopped the elves being outflanked by the greater number of Skaven but eventually the furry hordes began forcing a breach through sheer attrition. Eventually the Elven defence collapsed and the Tears of Isha fell as it was cut off and then taken by storm from tunnels secretly dug under the walls.

Unchallenged, Typhus' minions rampaged down the Vale of Endwe. The foul, rotting bodies of Skaven and Elf alike were dumped into the waters of the river Endwe to pollute the once pure drinking water of their hated enemies. Now the hordes of ravenous rats plagued the Elven colony. The spectre of siege and imminent invasion once more hung over Sein Craban.

As the legions of Typhus smashed the defences of Isha, his (currently) loyal vassals of the Warpclaw Guild spread verminous mischief across the ocean to the Holy Sigmarite Empire. The Skaven began to appear in alarming numbers along the coast of Armaethor, the very doorstep of the Sigmarite realm. This was much to the confusion of the Imperial Navy, who understood the Skaven fleets to be heavily engaged along the eastern stretches of the Pan Coron Ocean. How had the vile hordes managed to reach the hinterlands of Armaethor undetected?

Howsoever they had managed to make landfall, the task of ejecting the rat-men fell to the mercenary Ogres in the pay of the Imperial treasury. The Ogre warbands intercepted and engaged the legions of the Warpclaw Guild to the south of Galamor Bay. Such was the impetus of the Ogre onslaught that for a time it appeared as though their brute strength would carry the day.

But their moment of triumph was undone by the Guild’s infamous war-engines. The Skaven counter-attack was utterly ferocious and the Ogres were forced to withdraw back into the narrow pass of the Nimarn Valley. Here, they mounted a stalwart defence against the oncoming vermin but in the confines of the pass they were unable to out-manoeuvre the Skaven. For a time the Ogre rained shot, shell and fell magicks upon the Skaven lines and hope remained that they might repulse the attacking legions. But the furry tide was seemingly without end and the Ogres were eventually overwhelmed.

The southern Sigmarite provinces braced themselves for invasion... yet nothing came. The rat-men had melted away without a trace. No ships were seen by the Imperial Navy. No marching columns passed by the outlying townships or farmsteads. The insidious Skaven had vanished, and their schemes remained a mystery.

Trials of Cuitlaxaochitzin

In 357 a centuries old understanding was almost shattered as rebellion shook the kingdom of Cuitlaxaochitzin. Ogre mercenaries had long been settled in the lizardman empire, at times comprising the majority of the kingdom's standing armies. Whilst at times this had been a strained relationship it has suited both groups.

In 356 the first signs of trouble arose when the ogre prophet Grimm Darkheart began to preach that all ogres on Palurin were oppressed by their employers, especially the lizardmen. Anti-lizardman tales were spread by Grimm's followers, painting a picture of hard fighting-ogres downtrodden by scaly lizard claws.

Whilst riled up by the prophet's words, the Cuitlaxaochitzin ogres where still reluctant to outright rebel. However ogre forces from the Holy Sigmarite Empire had also caught word of Grimm's teachings. Tyrant Obwun Jade-eye was perfectly happy with living in the Empire but in early 357, after hearing how the lizardmen were oppressing his brethren, he personally lead an army west to Cuitlaxaochitzin.

With there own ogres refusing to fight Cuitlaxaochitzin was forced into using their own lizardman forces. At the battle of the Lonely Wood Obwun was able to smash through a hastily assembled guard of saurus, skinks and monstrous beasts to prove that ogres were definitely the greatest. With the lizardman army in tatters the Tyrant marched to the ogre city of Graawk where he encouraged the ogres there to rise in rebellion. But hopes of being lead by this mighty tyrant were dashed as Obwun then returned to the HSE claiming the Cuitlaxaochitzin climate didn't agree with him.

Still the Cuitlaxaochitzin ogres now had the final impetus they needed and mid-357 they began attacking lizardmen and liberating ogre servants all over the kingdom. Following the infamous 'Roast of a Thousand Skinks' the Slann masters interceded, with a terrible cold-blooded fury that took the ogres by surprise. At the battle of Snake Pass the rebellion was brutally suppressed and notorious troublemaker Rarrgrab the Red killed in battle.

Though a smaller rebel force was still at large, putting this down was just a matter of time and by the end of the year the ogres were put back in their place. Rebel leaders were heard to comment that the Slann 'just wanted it more' and many were happy that the lizardmen had proved themselves stronger and admitted skinks didn't taste all that nice anyway.

It would take a few years for the Cuitlaxaochitzin ogres to recover, but it seemed that the Slann were becoming more confident with using their own armies. In 360 they began expansion into Arloth and the Desert of Bones. As mysterious as ever the mages seemed to be searching for something amidst the sandy ruins. The march east was not without opposition, as orcs from the cloudy mountains had managed to gather together enough tribes for a scrap with the approaching forces. The lizard army proved as superior as ever and the greenskins were easily seen off. Despite their crisis, Cuitlaxaochitzin had seen a rapid expansion in just a few years.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Battle for Mount Breakspear

The Skaven war against the Elven colony of Sein-Craban had dragged on for nearly a century, with neither the Elves yielding nor the Skaven possessing the necessary might of arms to tip the balance of the conflict. The Elves were struggling with the hardships of attrition but now Boiling Peak found itself running low not only of warpstone deposits but also of supplies of key metal ores that proved so crucial for maintaining the Skaven war engines that had been pivotal in Typhus’ early victories.

The Cerrag Mountains to the north of the Skaven borders were known to harbour rich seams of iron ore as well as those of copper and tin, all vital to Skaven industry (such as it is). Yet those masters of mining, the Dwarfs, had long ago found and exploited this wealth of the mountains and had since incorporated these important areas into their realm. By 350PC the Dwarf Kingdom stretched from the Cerrag ranges in Mellthu to the mighty peaks of the Valdemare Moutains in Aranur to the far north. Speckled with castles, outposts and watchtowers the stony peaks of the Dwarf homelands were akin to a single vast, sprawling fortress carved into the mountain slopes.

The Skaven could ill-afford to invite war with the Dwarfs to the north while their bitter conflict with the Elves remained unresolved. So it was that the Skaven of the Warpclaw Guild proposed to extend the growing network of tunnels of the Great Underway toward Mount Breakspear, far off in the Nemir Desert. From there the Skaven could plunder the ore seams of Breakspear and its foothills without unduly drawing the attentions of the Dwarfs.

The Dwarfs, for their part, were not so insular as to be ignorant the world beyond their own borders. Frequent rangings by their scouts in the south alerted the Dwarfs to the Skaven presence at Mount Breakspear. Knowing that any activity associated with the vile rat-fiends could only have nefarious motives, the Dwarfs mustered their warriors for a march south to flush the Skaven from their lair at Mount Breakspear.

But the Dwarf armies that crossed the Nemir Desert found more than they had bargained for; the Skaven had not simply commenced mining activities but had rapidly entrenched themselves deep in the heart of Breakspear itself, hollowing the mountain with tunnels and caverns to form a stinking verminous stronghold with the Warpclaw Guild’s newly established laboratories at its foetid centre. When the host of the Dwarfs crossed the plains at the foot of the mountain the Skaven hordes boiled out of hidden caves and wormways like so many ants disturbed from a mound.

Battle was joined, but the Skaven had taken cares to ensure the defence of their lair. Clan Eshin agents had lain hidden along the Dwarf lines of march. Now, as the Dawi warriors took up battle formation, the slinking saboteurs leapt into action to disable the Dwarf artillery held in the rearguard. The guns and catapults managed a brief salvo against the verminous hordes, with a lucky shot even slaying the hapless Chief Warlock as he chattered and shrieked instructions to his underlings. Nevertheless the Dwarf crews were slaughtered at their posts and so the guns were silenced. Without the support of its artillery arm to cover the advance the Dwarf army came under heavy attack from the Skaven war engines assembled on the slopes of Mount Breakspear. From their vantage point on the escarpments overlooking the plains the diabolical machines hurled poison gases, eldritch flame and incandescent warp lightning into the Dwarf lines. The stoic bearded warriors maintained their implacable advance and tried to weather the storm with grim determination as only a Dwarf would.

Yet ultimately the Dwarfs found themselves overwhelmed. Under the hail of Skaven missiles and choking in the cloying fog of toxic gas weapons the Dawi casualties rose inexorably. Seeing the Dwarf advance founder the rat-men began their counter attack, and the infamous Unscurried legion smashed into the Dwarf van. Though the Lord Byrnie Redaxe and his household guard bravely mounted the counter-charge they were too few to stand against the frenzied furry tide.

Mount Breakspear remained firmly in the grasp of the Warpclaw Guild. When news of the defeat reached Karak-A-Varr it was met with shocked silence. None had expected the Skaven to be present in such great numbers, nor to defend their position with such tenacity. The decree went forth that the defences and patrols along the Cerrag ranges be doubled with immediate effect. The Grudge was recorded. Dwarf emissaries sought to make contact with the beleaguered Elves of the Sein-Craban colony so, in spite of recent frosty relations and diplomatic tensions, they might now make mutual cause against this malevolent threat.

This could leave the Skaven in a perilous position. Though they succeeded in repulsing the Dwarf attack, they had earned themselves a new enemy in the north with whom they must contend, all the while maintaining pressure on their old adversaries to the east. Typhus and his minions would have to plan their next moves carefully. An alliance between the powers of the Dwarf Kingdom and the Dragon Lords of Mellvellon could undermine the gains made over the decades of attrition. If the Skaven stood any chance of winning the war for control of the south then they had to strike again soon.

All the while, progress on the Great Underway continued apace…

Desperate Times

Mellvellon’s war with the Skaven for control of Mellthu was a costly drain on resources. Supporting the communties of the Sein-Craban colony and maintaining the supply lines of the armies in the field proved difficult. Even after the cleansing of the Vale of Endwe the land still remained ravaged by war; agriculture had recovered little, certainly not enough to feed the Elven armies and the populous of Sein-Craban. Furthermore, the roads were dangerous to travel, with merchants and traders often set-upon by agents of the Skaven in the continual guerrilla fighting that plagued the vale.

The cumulative result was a dire situation where the Elven economy, drained by a century of attrition, teetered on the brink of catastrophe. Without the incomes of the previously bountiful agriculture of the south, The Dragon Lords were forced to give the Elven Privateers free reign at sea in the hope that “acquired” goods and materials might help support the war effort.

But the privateers were to have mixed fortunes. Running a course too close to the coast of Aranur, the elves incurred the ire of the Iron Fleet of Karak-a-Varr. Diplomatic relations between the Dwarfs and the Elves had long fluctuated from alliance to armistice to outright war. At sea, there was little regard for diplomacy ar all and conflict was common- especially where privateers were concerned.

The Dwarf fleet surged forward to bring the sleek, swift ships of the Elves into range. The iron-skinned leviathans easily weathered the Elven shots as they tried to skirt out of range of the Dwarfs. The Elven captains therefore changed tack, and altered their course in order to quickly close the gap, hoping to sweep past the Dwarf ships and attack them from the rear.

It was to prove a costly move for both sides. The lead Dwarf cruiser Sealion opened up with full broadside, her captain having ordered the gunners to load with high explosive rounds. In their haste a team of gunners spilt their crate of volatile ammunition across the gun deck. All it took was a rogue spark from the first gun fired, and the Sealion went up like a powder-keg. The resultant explosion sank not only Sealion, but also blasted and buckled her sister ship Iron Trident to the extent that she could not hope to continue the battle. The Elves suffered equally, with their attacking cruisers reduced to splintered wrecks.

The privateers’ capital ship was now alone and at the mercy of the Dwarf Admiral’s battleship Steeltide. With all gunners working frantically, she poured shot after shot into the privateer ship. Within a matter of moments the Elves were utterly defeated, their ship lost with all hands, and all that was left was for Steeltide to chase off the few frigates that remained

When back ashore, the Dwarf Admiral and his crews celebrated their victory, with Dwarf pride truly satisfied. Yet they were unaware of the full repercussions of the defeat of the Elven privateers. Every setback caused the Elves to suffer, and allowed the stranglehold of the Skaven over the colonists of Sein-Craban to tighten. The iron claw of Typhus continued to close around lands of Mellthu.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Top Tens!

1 Kaalroen Empire 3,195,000
2 Holy Sigmarite Empire 1,915,000
3 Wood Elf Realm 1,780,000
4 Dwarf Kingdom 1,715,000
5 Dark Elf Dominion 1,670,000
6 Cuitlaxaochitzin 1,650,000
7 Mellvellon 1,645,000
8 Skaven 1,480,000
9 Cloudy Mountain Orcs 420,000
Biggest Cities
1 Boiling Peak 435,000
2 Karak-a-varr 335,000
3 Lamentation 290,000
4 Apotheosis 220,000
5 Sigmarheim 200,000
6 Hovedstaden 185,000
7 Sudhafen 175,000
8 Dragonspire 175,000
9 Galamory 160,000
10 Phallucia 155,000
Wonders of the World
1 Mount Cxa-Cxa 20
2 Great temple of Cuitlaxaochitzin 19
3 Dragonspire - Ivory Tower 18
4 Boiling peak Complex 17
5 Tower of Phallucia 8
6 Cathedral to Sigmar 6
= Ruins of Chimalman 6
8 Windmill of Doom 7
9 Spire of Lamentation 4
= Temple of Mannan 4
Biggest Armies
1 Kaalroen Empire 36
2 Mellvellon 23
3 Cuitlaxaochitzin 19
4 Dwarf Kingdom 19
5 Typhonian Enclave 10
6 Holy Sigmarite Empire 9
7 Cloudy Mountain Orcs 4
8 Dark Elf Dominion 2
Biggest Navies
1 Dark Elf Dominion 44
2 Typhonian Enclave 27
3 Dwarf Kingdom 20
4 Mellvellon 20
5 Holy Sigmarite Empire 18
6 Kaalroen Empire 5
7 Cuitlaxaochitzin 5