Monday, April 11, 2011

Chainmail - Battle of McGuillicuddy's Farm, Fall 46 AD

Sunday, I solo-gamed the small Chainmail scenario that I had planned out last week. Rather than three-peat the play-by-play and questions here, I'll point you to the OD&D Board thread and Knights & Knaves Alehouse thread where I have some specific questions. This post... is a flight of fantasy... a tale of bravery and woe.

It was a bit before dawn on the 13th day of Fall, 46AD and Gilroy squinted off into the distance. A bit of light bobbed and weaved, much like a will-o-wisp of legend. Gilroy spat into the ground and nudged his partner, Vomin. Vomin was a young lad, newly enlisted into the guard. Most landowners and homeowners within the town walls would grudgingly serve their requirement, but Vomin was excited to be doing something to mark his ascent into adulthood. Gilroy didn't begrudge him that, but it was still annoying all the same.

"That's someone with a torch." Vomin said, peering off into the pre-dawn gloom. "He's runnin' awful fast."

Gilroy grunted in response and waited. Soon enough, they heard gasping shouts as the figure approached. 

"Wassat he's sayin?" Gilroy asked.

"I ... I think he's yellin' goblins." Vomin said, a twinge of excited fear in his voice. Gilroy sighed and started to tighten his helmet. He hoped it was nothing more than an excited farmer's nightmare, but deep down, a disquiet grew in his stomach.

Horses neighed and snorted as the knights pulled up before the troops. Most of the Town Guards were red and puffing from the long forced march, while the Keep's soldiers drew deep breaths and drank some water. The bowmen were already stringing their staves and checking their quivers.

William shifted his lance and watched in pride as Marshall Henrick Roehm rode out before the troops and squinted off into the distance. The old warhorse had been out with his knights to do a small patrol when the word came in that goblins, goblins!, had come raiding. The Marshall hadn't blinked an eye, but upon querying the frantic farmer, he rounded up some lances of his cavalry, a few platoons of foot soldiers, collected the Town Guard that had been summoned and immediately marched north. William couldn't remember a time when old Hardtack Henrick hadn't been decisive, although some said he had often gotten into more trouble than he could handle. Rumor had it that his son was soon to be raised in status and leadership within the Keep, a sign that Henrick was relinquishing control due to his age. William hoped it wouldn't be true soon... he trusted the old warhorse more than he could name.

"Alright men! It looks like the goblins are setting themselves up in a line just beyond McGillicuddy's farm. Let's ride forth and see what they're up to. Archers and foot, form a line and follow behind!" Henrick bawled. William turned his horse in line and drew his sword. Today would bring victory, with Henrick in charge!

"Bah! They're moving the archers forward, cowards!" Henrick snarled. "Damnable creatures."

He waved to the cavalry. "We ride through the archers! By the time those green-skins know what hit 'em, we'll be through them and can trap the others between! Then we'll get on down the road. I know what those cowards are after, our harvest!"

Gilroy watched the horsemen line up and begin to ride as the lieutenants and sergeants bawled their commands and got the foot and archers moving up behind. He watched Henrick wave his lance and everyone cheered them on. As they advanced the archers fired volleys of arrows over the cavalry's charge to pepper the goblins. The knot in his stomach tightened further as the missiles didn't seem to have much effect...

William couldn't believe his eyes! The goblins had moved more troops from behind the woods and they were bearing down on their right. Even more unbelievable, the goblin archers were tossing down their bows and reaching for their swords rather than retreat from the charge! Henrick was to his right and yelling at his knights to ware the flank, but they were already among the archers and lances and swords were flashing as man and bestial fought.

Goblin blood sprayed in the air as the horsemen pushed their way into the archer's lines. William stole a glance to his right and watched as Henrick's knights tried to halt their charge and face the flanking danger. Then...

Three goblins jumped at Henrick from the side and one plunged his sword into the old man's neck as the other two pulled him off his horse. His knights milled in confusion as the goblin foot soldiers beat them to the side and rear and more men fell as horses died and goblin blades drank human blood....

The cavalry finally halted their charge some twenty to thirty yards behind the now destroyed line of archers. Some fled away, broken by the advance, but the spirit had broken much harder for the Enonians. The goblins were cheering and hooting... and they were advancing!  

"Back at 'em!" called out one of the cavalry lieutenants. "For the Marshall!" William wheeled his horse around and gripped his lance tightly as the horsemen advanced towards the jeering foot. With a crash, the two lines hit each other. The last thing William saw were two goblin blades coming from either side of his horse...

"They're all dead! I don't see the horses anymore!" Vomin cried out. Gilroy nodded grimly. 

"Keep your eyes to the front, boy! Those goblins advancing on us only care if we're dead... and we don't want to end up on a goblin's spear!" 

The two lines crashed together as Enonian footmen hewed at the goblins who stabbed and gibbered as they thrust their blades at the troops. Men screamed and fell and slowly the Enonians were pushed back till they retreated.

Gilroy wiped goblin blood from his face as the sergeants pulled the men back in line to face the advancing goblins. "Stand ready!" they called out urgently. Beside Gilroy, arrows flew as the archers desperately tried to hold the goblins off, but again, few fell and then the goblins were among them.

Gilroy was sporting a deep gash in his arm from a goblin blade. Vomin seemed none the worse for wear but he was clearly frightened. Around them, the battle seemed to go well, but men were falling, much too fast. Already, the humans were starting to pull back, but the goblins seemed to be doing the same. Then, several goblins advanced towards them. More and more men were starting pull back from the goblins onslaught. Gilroy saw that they were about to be cut off.

"Get going!" he said as he shoved Vomin towards the retreating men. "I'll hold them off!"

Vomin's grateful glance heartened Gilroy and Gilroy's grim look burned itself into Vomin's memory.

There's too many of them! The Marshall's dead! Retreat! Get back to the city!" screamed a bloody lieutenant, his nerve broken. The few men remaining from the foot soldiers began to flee, their resolve having fled. Vomin started to run with them, casting glances backwards in vain attempts to see if Gilroy was among them... but he never saw Gilroy again.

History records that on the thirteenth day of Fall, 46 AD, the goblins launched a successful raid of a particular rich harvest. A diversionary force had been sent towards Enonia while the remainder of the goblins plundered the grain stores and livestock to be carried back to their dens within the Dark Woods. Unfortunately for Enonia, Marshall Henrick Roehm was killed in the Battle at McGillicuddy's Farm, where Enonian forces responding to the attack encountered the diversionary force.

The knights were virtually wiped out, with only a couple of nobles surviving, and the cavalry was lost as an effective unit. The Town Guard and Keep footmen, losing their nerve at so many of their fellows dying, as well as shock over their Marshall's death, fled the battle alongside the archers. The goblins never attacked the city itself, but the loss of grain and cattle caused a great deal of privation in the ensuing harsh winter. Victor Roehm, Henrick's eldest son, assumed the title of Marshall, but some say he never was able to get over the death of his father.


Derek Daniels said...

Nicely done, and a well-written tale. Dargellon would have been around 7 years old when this occurred and in another part of the Kingdom, so he might never have heard this bit of Enonian history.

Chris Kutalik said...

Were you using the man-to-man or bigger battle Chainmail rules (the fantasy supplement is kind of vague on the scale)? Just curious.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@Derek - thanks! It's probably something you'd only hear about in the inns/taverns in Enonia - old timers grousing about how much better things were back in the days of old Henrick...

@ckutalik - 1:20 scale. Since there were no fantastic creatures or opportunities for 1:1 man to man involved, I went with the easiest route.

Matthew James Stanham said...

Good stuff! Nice to see a world affected by the outcome of this sort of thing. Like a random table, but more complex. :)

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@Matthew - More satisfying than a random table, as well! There's a great deal to be said about following in Greyhawk's/Blackmoor's footsteps to recreate history and affect current campaign situations through wargaming.