- Written by Gavin Syme
"The Green Knight"
A DarkeStorme scenario for two players by Gavin Syme
Deep in the darkling forest the Dwarves of Karl Ultranain encounter a mysterious knight who cannot be killed but is intent on slaughter.
With fallen branches cracking and crunching under their leather soles the four Dwarves approached the nearing clearing with now weary steps. For hours they had walked and none had seen a sign or marker that told of their location. They were lost, though not totally, keep on trudging and the edge of the forest would come.
‘I will admit to you that despite returning to Firnhalle for six seasons through this woodland I am lost for my bearings. This may well delay us in reaching the town but I am sure there will be bier and wenches a plenty when we do.’
Karl Ultranain spoke with the voice of experience and the words brought a smile from his sergeant Gunter and the other two Dwarves with them. Karl had kept them alive in skirmishes against the Elves and also in one terrifying encounter with the Dracci themselves.
‘Perhaps in the clearing ahead we will find a rough cottage or some friendly faces with food to spare and we can tell tall tales, eh.’
With that the four entered the clearing and quickly realised that whatever was going to happen it would become a tall tale and not the telling of one to others.
Atop the higher hill in the midst of the clearing sat an imposing figure astride a mighty warhorse. He was clad in furs and stained armour that spoke of a centuries use. Across his lap sat an axe, its head more than three hands wide, and his face as hidden by a horned helm that only added to his menace. These things the Dwarves had seen in one guise or another before and it did not concern them; though the warriors appearance did offer one shock. He was a deep emerald green from head to foot as was his armour, as was his warhorse.
Magicke spoke from every pore of the warrior, he shimmered in the cold autumn air as if in an impossible hear haze. This was an old magicke and it made the Dwarves afraid, afraid of the coming fight. For a fight it would be as no warrior dresses and arms himself with a comport like that unless he was intent on murder.
Gunter spoke quietly to his fellows and informed them that perhaps this magicke was a decoy, perhaps it was no more than an illusion and if perhaps they were quiet and skirted the clearing they could leave it and go on without any trouble. Karl Ultranain laughed low and harsh; this would be blood and he knew it.
They began to sneak forward towards the middle of the clearing, the high trees blocking all but three possible paths away. However all of these paths passed the two hills and the green warrior. They drew closer and neared the centre. Swords and Axes lowered but ready, eyes never leaving the silent and still warrior. Perhaps they would be able to pass and that guttural laugh of their leader was unfounded. They began to dare to hope and then the warrior spoke.
In a voice that told of ages and deep horror the green warrior gave voice. They all heard the words as if the warrior had been merest inches from their ears;
‘You who come before me in this place of life eternal must take up the challenge that is decreed by my blood and my tears. You will raise your swords and meet my axe in true battle. Mayhap that you will best me and then I will rest. For almost certain you will like scree on the slope of my blade fall and my watch shall continue. Be ready...I come now.’
The Dwarves stopped dead and looked to one another unsure what to do. It did not take more than a moment for the answer to come as they saw the Green Knight put heel to his spurs and put his warhorse into action. He came on fast and as he descended the hill the great axe with its keenly sharp edge came up ready for a deadly stroke.
‘Seems it is a tussle after all. Lets give him a fine send off.’
With that Karl Ultranain raised his own axe and readied it for the now charging figure in green.
If you go into the woods today you had better go heavily armed.
Never was a truer word spoken as it turns out that not all the warfare in the Darke Age comes about as a result of marching armies and serried ranks skirmishing for victory. Sometimes Wylde Magicke rears its shimmering head and presents you with something nasty, something really seriously nasty. Then its up to you to prevail or perish in the attempt.
The Dwarves under the legendary Karl Ultranain have been on the trail for days as they cross a forest usually well travelled and safe from all but marauders. But they have taken a wrong turn, perhaps as the result of fatigue or even magicke misdirection. Now emerging into a clearing in the thick forest they have come upon two hills with an ancient and magicke cairn of stones arranged in an ominous pattern next to them . Worse still a warrior astride a warhorse sits on the summit of the taller hill and calls forth a challenge to all who wish to pass. He seems intent on slaughter and this suits Karl as he is a veteran of many fights himself...however this warrior and his horse are a uniform deep green and have the aura of mighty sorcery about him.
This scenario is a fight with a difference. The Green Knight cannot be killed! The Dwarves must enter the game and then exit from any other path while at the same time fending off the Green Knight who will attempt to stop them all and put them to a grizzly death. Can the Dwarves escape the clearing or are they doomed....
This scenario is played on a standard size table of six feet by four feet using 28mm scale fantasy miniatures. It is perfectly possible to use 15mm fantasy miniatures converting the scale down as per the conventions in the DarkeStorme rulebook.
The terrain for this adventure is laid out as per the map on this page. The whole area is thickly wooded with large trees which form an impassible barrier to all movement. You can see there are four paths in to and out of the clearing, north, south, east and west. There are two hills, one of which is a two level hill (located in the centre of the playing area). Lastly there is the Magicke Cairn which is outlined in white next to the hills. This is the source of the Green Knights power
There is no need for a Special Terrain roll for this table (as per page 17 of the book) as the Cairn counts as special for this game. See the Special rules for details of this in play.
When play begins the Dwarves can be sited within 3 inches of each other and 3 inches of ANY one of the four path entrances to the playing area. The Green knight begins on horseback in the middle of the summit of the level hill in the centre of the map.
The first turn begins once set up is complete.
The Green Knight automatically wins the initiative roll for the first turn and activates first.
Karl Ultranain’s Dwarves
A small detachment from the Krautan regiment of Hans De Groover these Dwarves are experienced and tough with it. But they have never faced an enemy like this before!
Karl Untranain (Unit Leader)
The leader of this small group Karl is a legendary Dwarf who has seen countless actions...he has even fought magicke before. Will he prevail now?
Karl Ultranain is a Mountain Dwarf armed with a Poleaxe he wears Armour which counts as ‘Quality’. As leader he is immune to Morale tests.
Special Rule - This character has ‘Nimble’, ‘Natural Warrior’ (+1 Cause Wound) and ‘Sixth Sense’ abilities.
You can use this miniature: DH11 Pose 3
Gunter (Unit Sub Leader)
This fellow has been with Karl for a few months now. He respects the veteran Dwarf and will follow him into hell...which is handy.
Gunter is a Mountain Dwarf armed with a Sword and Shield he wears Armour which counts as ‘Acceptable’.
You can use this miniature: DH8 Pose 2
Getting a bit long in the tooth does not bother Seb, he lets his axe do the talking!
Seb is a Mountain Dwarf armed with a 1H Axe and Large Shield he wears Armour which counts as ‘Quality’.
You can use this miniature: DH8 Pose 1
He turns up and he does what he is told...good lad!
Thom is a Mountain Dwarf armed with a 1H Club and Shield he wears Armour which counts as ‘Acceptable’.
You can use this miniature: DH8 Pose 4
The Green Knight
How long has this warrior been trapped by the accursed cairn and forced to kill at its errie green bidding? So far none who have entered the clearing have left to tell the tale, or if they have asked him they have not spoken the answer.
The Green Knight (Unit Leader)
Very strong, very lethal and totally indestructible the Green Knight seeks only to kill enough to allow the Cairn to let his tortuous life end. Perhaps the Dwarves of Ultranain will finally be enough....
The Green Knight is a Human (Plains) armed with a Great Axe*, he wears Armour which counts as ‘Acceptable’. He is immune to Morale tests. Special Rule - This character has the skill ‘Iron Skin’. He is mounted on a Warhorse.
You can use this miniature: FL10 (mounred and dismounted)**
* Though the Great Axe is not meant for Humans the Green Knight has magicke strength and can use it.
** The pack FL10 contains the same character on foot and mounted. If the mount is killed in combat or after the first time the Green Knight is ‘killed’ in the fight he will continue on foot from that point.
This scenario is aimed at those who have some experience in the realm of high fantasy and as a result there are some special rules in this adventure. They are as follows;
The Green Knight: This character cannot be killed; though he can be removed from play for a while by being cut down. Note though that the first time it dies or he does the Warhorse is removed from play for the rest of the game. Each time the Green Knight is killed the miniature is picked up and placed in the centre circle loop of the Cairn from where he activates again when its his turn.
The Magicke Cairn: Tied to the Green Knight and he to it the Magicke Cairn is the source of the curse that keeps the long dead warrior going. It is possible to destroy the Cairn and this can be done by melee combat and inflicting TWO successful wounds. The Cairn has the same stats for defence as the Green Knight.
If the Cairn is destroyed the Knight is freed from his curse and will now truly die. He continues in play but each turn roll 1D6 and on a 6 he will stop fighting and let the Dwarves leave. If can leave or they can convince him to join them (future adventure fun!). If he is killed again that is it...he is dust.
This scenario is not part of a larger campaign (though you may integrate it as such if you like) and as a result the victory conditions can be short, sharp and clear.
The Green Knight wins outright if he manages to prevent any Dwarf from leaving the playing area. It is a minor victory if he prevents 50% of the Dwarves from exiting.
The Dwarves of Karl Ultranain win outright if they all manage to leave the playing area. It is a minor victory if they lose only one character to the Green Knight.
Expanding the Adventure
This adventure can be expanded in one of two ways. In both cases you can use points values or a narrative approach to calculate forces as you wish. Here are the possible easy expansions;
Firstly you could expand the Dwarf unit by including all of the miniatures from DH11 and DH8 to join those already in play. This would give a unit of ten characters which will overpower the Green Knight. As a result change the victory conditions to allow the Knight a chance, perhaps he only has to kill three of the Dwarves?
Secondly you could bring in a second Green Knight. Using the other miniature from FL10 a second knight on foot can take to the field.
Objectives remain the same but with double the force the Knights will be a tougher challenge indeed!
I have wanted to write this scenario for a while now. Two reasons for this. One I love the legend of the Green Knight from the tales of the Grail and the Knights of the Round Table. Secondly the FL10 miniatures themselves are so expressive and well suited to use as the Green Knight I just put the two together. Also a remark made to me at Salute 2009 by Craig Andrews (he of the Orcs on the Webbe site fame) about how he personally was really keen on the Darke Age and wanted to see something quirky and not only the straight forward fights that most fantasy games offer. I hope I have succeeded!
In terms of playing the scenario here I can offer some advice. During the creation and testing of this adventure it became clear to me that one way to win as the Dwarves was to ignore trying to escape but instead to try and knock out the Green Knight. Letting him come to them and attacking in melee using Karl Ultranain as he is the best fighter in the group. Combining their strength the Dwarves can ‘kill’ the Knight pretty well in one turn...sometimes. With him then coming back to life without his horse he is slowed down and hopefully far away at the Cairn. You can then send off the rest of the Dwarves to escape and block the Knight with Karl.
If you are playing as the Green Knight I offer some advice also. Pick off the weakest Dwarves first, you are after total kills not one certain character. Though you can come back to life, try not to die. Loosing the horse is a bad start to play. If the Dwarves begin at the entrance closest to the Cairn then go at them full on, attack, attack. For if you die you will appear one more infront of the foe!
The above article was originally published on Alternative Armies content portal, Barking Irons and is reproduced here with permission.