Margahrah and the Battle of Burnehof
A Flintloque Scenario by Tony Harwood
Five factions go up against one another for supremacy of the small town of Burnehof. Elven agent Margahrah needs to know why are they gathered here – what is so important that old and in-built hatred, distrust and alliances could be treated with such distain? Alliances will be made, broken and re-built and behind it all, the famed staff of power.
Margahrah sat in the largest, most comfortable padded chair he could find, his leather booted feet resting on a wooden stool and the large hound Sal curled up between him and the crackling log fire. On the verge of dropping off to sleep Margahrah was still having difficulty in fully relaxing; each time he was close to restful sleep images of his recent adventures in the Witchlands would trickle through to his conscious mind and the throbbing in his temples would begin again. The bottle of fine Ferach Brandy and the full meal might mean that this evening he would sleep well.
The room full with the smell of burning wood and Sal’s musky odour were having a relaxing effect on the ex- Commissioner of police and sleep was slowly creeping up on him. He knew that he should retire to his bedroom and make use of the huge four-poster bed, but at times like this, when the Gods allowed Margahrah to sleep he felt it churlish to ‘push his luck’.
Margahrah allowed himself to slumber.
Sal’s low growl broke through to his still thoughtful mind and absent-mindedly he chided the half wolf, half hound for disturbing him.
But the loyal dog, a dog that had now been with Margahrah since those evil nights trekking back across the frozen wastelands of the Wraith King continued with the low growl.
Margahrah stirred and with his outstretched hand, scratched the huge dog behind her ear.
“Shush old girl.” He mumbled and tried to return to the land of slumber.
Then there was a knocking on the Inns huge front door. The knocking continued and soon everyone in the inn was awake and waiting for Garstang, the innkeeper to answer the infernal racket.
Sal continued to growl, not quite enough to worry Margahrah, but persistent enough for him to realise that something was amiss. At the front of the inn the metal strapped, oak door opened with a grinding noise and some soldiers were heard pushing in to the main hall. Minutes passed, Sal was now more agitated and between Margahrah and the only door to the room when three Ferach soldiers – horsemen in the grand uniform of a Chevalier of the Guard barged in.
I don’t think they were expecting Sal, a huge silver, grey wolf hound to be behind the door and all three were taken aback when she, with shackles raised started to howl. The first Ferach, who had now been pushed forward into the direct path of the growling hound, involuntarily placed his hand on his sword.
“That will not be necessary.” Commanded Margahrah and with a tiny flick of his hand Sal, relaxed and padded back to her place in front of the fire.
“What is the meaning of this?” Said Margahrah. “You must know that I am a loyal emissary of the Emperor himself and I am preparing to return to my beloved Lyonesse on the morrow. Why are you so intent on disturbing my sleep?”
The leading Ferach, an officer judging by all that braid was still eying Sal with some apprehension, when he stood to attention and saluted the still seated Margahrah.
“I have orders from Marshal Ney. He wishes to speak with you, urgently and has commanded that you proceed with all haste to his camp.” Said the officer. “We should mount up and ride to him immediately.” He continued.
Margahrah, stretched and then yawned.
“I think any attempt at riding this night may be better postponed until tomorrow, when the light is a little better. For now I need to rest. See if the innkeeper has any beds for you and your associates. And try not to make any more noise, I need my sleep.”
With this, Margahrah shrugged and settled back into his chair in front of the fire.
The Ferach officer tried to object, but Sal raised her head, baring her long white fangs and snarled in their direction. The three Ferach thought it better to obey the more senior ex-Commissioner of police and retired, trying not to make any of the floorboards creak or the door bang.
Margahrah sighed. “What ‘special project’ has Ney got in store for me this time?”
The next morning, and after a long and relaxing breakfast, Margahrah, his remaining group of Ferach infantry and the three mounted Chevalier Guards slowly marched towards the camp of Marshal Ney.
By mid afternoon they were within sight of the large tents that Ney called his headquarters and the Grande Armiee du Norde was scattered in small groups, trying to keep warm in the cold weather by shambling around make-do braziers.
Marshal Ney greeted Margahrah as if he was to be distrusted, the stories of how he had deterred the headless Zombies and brought back a renegade Halfling now well forgotten, this man was needed for a new and possible more dangerous assignment.
Ney dismissed all except Margahrah and a paper wielding clerk, who stood slightly behind Ney ready to hand forward papers or files.
“The Empire, once again has need of your (special) expertise”, Margahrah, raised an eyebrow, but Ney continued. “I am aware that you were preparing to return home, but this little problem requires your attention – your immediate attention.” Your attention was said in a way that Margahrah was not sure if it was a request or an order!
“Reports have recently arrived with me, stating that a large group of Werewolves have been gathering at the small village of Burnehof, on the border of Ostria and The Witchlands, (Witchlands was also said in a tone that Margahrah took some notice of). This area has for many years been heavily contested by Werewolf, Ostarian Dogs and Dwarves. I want to know what is going on and whether it poses any danger to the orderly retreat of the Grande Armee du Norde.” Ney turned to the clerk and took some files which he gave to Margahrah before finishing with. “Sort this out, and quickly, I don’t have time for these minor distractions.”
Margahrah took the papers and retired from the tent. Ney was already engrossed in some other issue of importance and Margahrah saw no worth in prolonging the encounter. He called to Petre, who having been with him although the Headless Zombie adventure now held this mid-mannered Gentle-Elf with considerable respect.
“Petre, we need to postpone our return to Lyonesse, please make ready and prepare the Elves for yet another adventure.”
Petre saluted and without any further thought as to the reasoning behind the new adventure or where it might take him and his section he prepared to commandeer some provisions and brief his battle-hardened Elves.
Margahrah poured himself a cup of hot something (it might have been soup, it might have been coffee) and settled down to read the papers that Ney had given him.
Even before the sun had fully set, Margahrah and fifteen Elves (all that remained of the twenty-four that had marched out earlier that very year to reports of Headless Zombies) and a huge Wolf-Hound moved North-East toward the small town of Burnehof. That evening, around a huge blazing fire the Elves first ate and then slept. Sal, kept watch and Margahrah mulled over the snippets of intelligence that he had ‘gleaned’ from the wads of hastily written reports.
It seems that a gathering of sorts was taking place, not just Werewolves, but Ortrian Dogs and Dwarves had been sighted moving inextricably towards Burnehof. Margahrah was still trying to understand why when his eyelids closed and despite horrid nightmares he slept.
The sun tried to break through the heavy dark clouds, but failed and the day continued to be cold and grey. By lunch time the group came across a small hamlet of farms and decided that this was a good place to rest. There might also be the opportunity to gather some first-hand intelligence as the reasoning behind such a gathering of creatures was still perplexing Margahrah.
In a building that was best described as a hovel, the Elves were treated to some warm broth and cold meats, these peasants had little to share, but what they did have was freely given. Margahrah questioned the poorly dressed villagers about first Burnehof and then about any unusual activity. At first they were unwilling to share any news, but when Petre produced a flask of brandy, tongues were soon loosened and the Elves were entertained with many strange folk-tales about the ancient town of Burnehof and its history.
It seems that Burnehof was at the intersection of The Witchlands, Ostria and the now fragmented Dwarf Homelands. This area had been violently fought over for many years and rumours of un-natural alliances with Warewolves, Spectres and Undead abounded. It was rumoured that there was once an evil Necromancer, a Vampire who coveted some magical item or other, an item that was long lost to the world of Valon. Others of fearless soldiers who returned with hair and beards turned completely white. The stories continued for some time and as Margahrah wanted as much information as possible, the Elves remained, listening to tales of Wylde Magicke for some time. As night fell, Margahrah decided that it was not worth moving on and a make-do camp was set up in an old and dilapidated barn.
That night as the sky was at its darkest a strange green-blue glow was seen on the horizon, silent rays of coloured lightening were seen to cut into the pitch blackness and all who saw the displays were filled with awe and terror. What could this display mean?
In the morning, it was clearly apparent that the night-time illuminations were coming from Burnehof.
With even more sinister stories of lost travellers or others who had gone completely mad the Elves set out with apprehension towards Burnehof.
Later in the day Margahrah set eyes on Burnehof for the first time.
An unassuming little village set among the crossroads of four olde roads and below some low hills, the only feature of note, a large church with a gold-topped, onion-shaped crown. The rest of the building were decidedly run-down and in need of repair. The shining gold-topped dome appeared so out of place in such a decrepit place.
Margahrah signalled to Petre that they should proceed with caution. There was something decidedly un-natural about the place and the hairs on the back of Margahrah’s neck prickled as the distance between the Elves and the town decreased.
As the Elves proceeded an air of foreboding descended upon them and in an attempt to bolster the morale of the group Margahrah decided to take a break and review their options.
As they settled down at the side of the main road, Sal began to emit a low growl. The Elves were already on edge and this did little to settle their nerves. They hunkered down and took cover in some twisted trees, when a squad of Dwarves, dressed in black uniforms was seen marching towards the town. Petre, signalled for silence and the Elves hunkered down and waited to see what happened next.
Margahrah stroke Sal’s snout, ensuring that her growls were muffled and the Elves watched with hushed breath as the black-clad stunties advanced. These were no ordinary Dwarf troops, their uniforms were all black with only the slightest hint at silver decoration, on their shakos was a silver Deaths Head, a grinning skull and the only colour was the variation in the hue of their beards. As they passed the cowering Elves, they halted – had the Elves been seen?
No the Dwarves had paused to unfurl a huge black banner. The flag pole was decorated with another silver Deaths Head and the motif on the flag made even the firmest Elf shudder. These were the infamous Spectre Guard. A special unit of only the strongest willed and hard-bitten Dwarves. There role to search out Wylde Magicke and Fantastical Beasts and destroy them. The image stitched on to the black banner showed a huge grey skull with blazing red eyes devouring a screaming demon.
This was no ordinary little adventure – something very sinister was taking place in the sleepy little village or Burnehof!
The shaken Elves stayed hidden as the Dwarves marched towards the small town. Marghrah signalled for Petre and some other senior Elves to come to him and in hushed whispers he passed out his plans. The Elves were to split into two sections search out any other forces who may be present and then proceed with extreme caution to a small clump of trees on the Eastern side of the town. There they could have a better view of the random buildings and see who else had invites to this party. By the time they regrouped the first section had identified yet another force. This one a squad of Ostarian Dogs who were also converging on the town centre while the second squad had seen some Werewolves moving among outbuildings in the centre of the town.
As night fell the battle-hardened Elves were feeling very uneasy. No one thought of lighting a fire to ward off the cold, which with every step closer to Burnehof got colder and colder, Margahrah’s breath exited his mouth in clouds of steam and even with his thick fur coat he was wondering if he had ever been this cold before – even on that accursed retreat from the Witchlands.
The Elves sat in silence all eyes on the small buildings and damaged walls that circled Burnehof. Few slept that night, and if they did it was in short fitful burst which caused them to shudder and in some instances cry out. It was a very uneasy night which just after midnight got even stranger.
The eerie coloured lightning returned to stab across the Black sky. At these close quarters it should have been a magnificent sight – one to bestow wonder on all who saw it. However the coloured lights illuminated yet another group of visitors who shambled into the town from the North. The unmistakable form of Zombies, their unnatural gait all too obvious to those who had uncounted them in the past. What was so important that in this small enclave there were now at least five different factions vying for supremacy? Margahrah hoped that his small force of Ferach Elves had not been spotted.
As the Elves became accustomed to the coloured light they saw that the lightning was emanating from the Gold-Coloured dome of the church, branching out into the black sky like sparks off a slow match.
By the poor light of the coloured lightening Margahrah read and re-read the reports that he had been given by Ney. Surely there would be something to help him make sense of this fiasco?
As a watery sun rose in the East, The Elves with the sun behind them prepared to move towards the small town.
To the North a group of weary Zombies picked up their muskets and shambled towards the centre of Burnehof.
Ostarian Dogs were gathering their equipment, oiling swords and loading muskets. They shielded their eyes against the rising sun, low in the sky and set off towards the huge gold roofed church.
The black-clad Dwarves were also on the move, marching in perfect step from the South.
This scenario pits five equal but decidedly different factions against one another for supremacy of the small town of Burnehof and the famed Staff of Power. It is quite possible that alliances will be made, broken and re-built during the course of the upcoming battle, but Margahrah needs to know why are they gathered here – what it so important that old and in-built hatred, distrust and alliances could be treated with such distain?
The battlefield should be set out as a small town with a four road crossroads emanating out to the four corners of the countryside. In the central courtyard a large and old church with a huge onion-shaped golden dome. The rest of the buildings should be considered medium cover with a maze of wooden and stone walls haphazardly connecting the different structures.
Margahrah and 15 Elves (plus Sal, a huge wolfhound)
Margahrah must first find out why these groups are engaging at this juncture. He can enter into alliances and parley with any but the Zombies (the animosity between this Elf and those accursed monstrosities is just too great). He can capture one (or more) to interrogate them!
Margahrah wins if he can unravel the mystery and subdue the threat to Ney and the Armee du Norde.
NB. Due to past encounters the Elves under Margahrah are unshaken bay anything but the most horrific of sights.
Dwarves of the Spectre Guard (16 highly trained and very stout Dwarves)
The Dwarves have one simple aim to capture a Wylde Magicke staff that is currently in the hands (paws) of the leading Werewolves. How they do this is not as important as the success of the operation. They will make alliances with any other force on the table – but the alliances will only last or be permitted if in the mission is a success.
This small group of Dwarves are the least effected by any Magicke (throws a D6 and 1-3 has no effect 4-6 count as notmal).
Ostarian Dogs (15 Ostarian Guard Chasseurs led by a huge hound called Digby)
These dogs are just as single-minded as the Dwarves, their aim to grasp the magical staff and either destroy it or take it back to Crown Prince Kafflehound as a war trophy. They will ally with any other force, but an alliance of Dg and Werewolf should be seen as a very dangerous and volatile treaty.
Digby (due to his immense size) can wield the staff for 6 consecutive moves – see notes below.
14 Undead Zombies led by an ambitious vampire and accompanied by a KGB Liche.
Once again their aim is to steal the staff and take it back to the Great Star Wraith. They will ally with any force on the field of battle – just don’t expect it to last!
NB. Do not remove any dead figures from the field of battle (place them on their side). The Vampire or KGB Liche can use the staff to raise any dead figures as zombies – treat as new/fresh zombies. The Zombies remain under the control of the undead player far as long as he has the staff. They then wander the battlefield lost and uncontrollable.
Werewolves – a huge werewolf leader with 15 lesser werewolves.
The lead Werewolf has found an ancient Wilde Magicke staff (possibly a wizards staff that has both positive and negative effects on the creature. The werewolves will ally with any other group, but an alliance between Dog and Werewolf should be considered un-natural and guaranteed to end in bloodshed. Their aim is to end the game with possession of the staff.
The Staff of Power (Special Rules)
The staff – think marshals’ baton for ease of a better description. Is a thing of great power and horror. Whoever holds it will gain great power over his comrades, but at an equally great cost.
The wielder will be able to control his force/forces with a will of iron and increase the morale of those troops to elite and steadfast troops. The downside is that the staff will drain life-force and no creature (living or undead) will be able to wield it for more than five consecutive moves before collapsing, exhausted. The collapsed character will be unconscious for one turn and then regain life-force to a maximum of 75% of original power. On the second activation and collapse – this is reduced to 50% and then 25% and then. Well you get the picture.
Any foe within one move distance when this happens can pick up the staff and the five move penalty begins again. Try to keep the staff moving amongst the different forces. If you can produce a stand-in marshals staff all the better, try a cut-down broom handle painted royal blue with gold tipped ends and Magicke inscriptions! If this is not possible, a wooden spoon will do.
In an attempt to resurrect Margahrah and his group of Elves following his Headless Zombies adventure I wanted a multi-player gaming scenario with a single gaming goal – the seizing of the staff. At the same time I was wondering just how far I could push the idea of different factions building alliances with other forces, even those that would not normally be tolerated.
In a tournament game, you could substitute the staff for a stick of Blackpool rock and keep track of movement – activation with foil covered chocolate coins. The winner keeping the treats as a reward.
After writing the introduction I came across a multi-player Warmaster scenario called The Battle of Bockenhof by Dave Batten and featured in Warmaster Magazine – issue 6. This simple gaming scenario pitted five forces against one another (or in league with one another) to gain control of the Staff of Power.
A more intricate and larger Slaughterloo game could field huge armies with similar aims. However the true mischief is the alliances, pacts and treaties that will have to be built (and possibly broken) to achieve the goal of gaining control of the Staff of Power.
Finally, have fun – this is what the scenario is all about.
This article was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe quite a while ago in fact but was first published on the 19th December 2014 as part of the 2014 advent calendar.
You can read all Tony's previous Margahrah articles by clicking on the maroon tag just below and to the left.