Write-ups of the four missions following the initial Zora mission of rescuing the Commander. I’ve included some game notes, back-at-camp stuff, and even a Loremaster journal entry. These are pretty long so I’ve split them into separate posts below by mission. (Possible triggers? We’ve leaned into the brutality and dehumanizing nature of war.)
With three of the Specialists maxed out on Stress, only one could be sent with a squad on each mission. The Ember Wolves, led by the Sniper, went on the primary mission: blowing up the Hozelbrucke Bridge behind the Legion to delay Render’s forces, giving the Legion some breathing room.
Meanwhile, using information gained from their captive Black Oak Knight, the Ghost Owls and the Legion’s Scout were sent on a mission to infiltrate a Black Oak camp and steal the plans to a new weapon of Render’s being built there, and sabotage the prototype before its completion.
The Wolves, left behind with the Legion’s only canons (siege equipment), started in a desperate position, delayed by having to quietly set up the canons on a nearby ridge for firing by a single individual. This unfortunately allowed far more of Render’s forces to cross the bridge than the squad had planned. The Sniper stayed with the canons so she could clear the way onto the bridge for the squad, and provide covering fire afterwards.
The barrage from the canons decimated the massed gaunt and the squad rushed forward as a shield wall, led by the squad corporal “Brad Pitt’s Achilles”. Confused and scattered, the undead were unable to respond effectively. Thus the squad made it onto the bridge and charged its length to the center, knocking Gaunt down or over the sides of the bridge.
As the Gaunt closed in on them from both sides, two of the Rookies quickly tied a rope to the one carrying the explosives and then simply threw him over the side even while anchoring the ropes. Two of the other Rookies took position to hold back the horde as best as they could, but were almost overwhelmed and dragged down. But Rookie Pitt leapt in the way and took the hits for them!
The Sniper loaded her pistols with blackshot and went toe-to-toe with the Gaunt squads coming at her, taking them down at close range where she could hit the chinks in their armor more accurately. Almost dragged down, she managed barely escape being pulled part, and (now out of ammo) finally threw one of her pistols at an approaching Gaunt, and smashed another in the face with the other. Then disappeared back up the ridge and to the canons.
There, she loaded one of the canons as best she could, aimed it, prayed, and fired at the bridge, trying to clear the way. She succeeded. Gaunt (and pieces of Gaunt) flew everywhere, though the squad took some splash damage from the explosion and the bridge cracked open, taking a number of the Gaunt down with it.
The Rookies used the canon blast as an opening to regroup, leapt over the gap before it became too wide, and charged through the (once again confused and scattered) Gaunt, once again smashing through their lines and making it to the far side side of the bridge. The side of the bridge holding squads of Black Oak Cavalry waiting to cross over. They quickly threw down the last of their explosives, but not before the Black Oak charged at them across the rain-slicked stones.
Underneath the bridge, the tossed Rookie made his way around the pillar, planting charges, and then to a spot beneath the bridge better suited for collapsing the whole structure, hanging on by one hand while he placed that charge. At the last moment his fingers slipped and he was left dangling over the river with a bomb overhead. With the only way out being down, he decided to untie the rope and drop into the Tigeria.
Luckily, the evening before, the squad had crept down to the river and put a raft in place between the pillars – which they planned to use to escape downriver once the explosives went up and the bridge went down. He splashed down, swallowed too much water, but managed to drag himself onto the raft before he was swept away or sank to the bottom.
Above, the charge almost devastated the remaining squad…but once again, Rookie Pitt came to the rescue, giving a mighty roar and taking the worst the Black Oak cavalry had to give, absorbing lance and sword strikes meant for his fellows…and miraculously not falling to the blows. The squad went over the side, dropping to the slope, or shallows of the river below, where the other Rookie was waiting with the raft.
The Sniper, waiting for the squad to get clear, had been taking shots at the Gaunt on her side of the bridge, and with the squad now clear, took aim at the explosives with her rifle and lit up the bridge. Stone work, Gaunt, and Black Oak Knights were caught in the blast, or went down with the Hozelbrucke into the river (their heavy armor sinking them all to the bottom).
But the Gaunt had finally found the Sniper’s blind. She managed to slip away, diving over a cliff into the river, leaving the siege canons and uncertain if the squad had actually survived the explosion and bridge collapse.
Downriver, the squad disembarked from the raft and made their way back to the ruined bridge to judge the situation. Without their Black Oak masters to guide them (who were still on the other side of the Tigeria), the Gaunt were wandering, directionless and disorganized, which made it easy for the squad to sneak back and retrieve the Legion’s canons. Then they made to catch up with the rest of the Legion.
The Ghost Owls, however, didn’t have as much luck…their mission was an utter failure; the squad was decimated, and the Scout barely made it back alive. As a warning to the Black Oak, Zora is considering hanging their captive from a tree along the road north, certain the Ghost Owls were led into an ambush by bad intel he provided.
The Commander decided enough had been done at the Western Front and, with the Legion collected and recomposed after the harrowing flight from Ettenmark and Render’s forward movement blunted for the moment, had them move on to Plainsworth to resupply for the long journey to Skydagger. Most of the soldiers who had been manning (or hiding behind the walls of) the fort were in tow.
The squad pushed their Position to Desperate for nearly every roll (when it wasn’t there already) (because Ember Wolves: +1d for desperate actions), and Great effect…and consistently rolled 6’s for most of their crazed escapades. That they all survived the Black Oak charge was a miracle of Armor and Resistance rolls – with Rookie Pitt spending his use of Anchor to take on the knights on more equal footing, and reduce the Harm he took.
Unfortunately, the Legion is now down two squads who are capable of going on missions: the Ghost Owls lost three, and the Silver Stags lost one prior. Though the Quartermaster did bring a number of soldiers with from the Front.
The QM started work on a “Cart-Mounted Blackshot Canons” project that can be used to reduce Pressure when moving forward by spending blackshot (similarly to horses), and managed to complete a “Break Out the Good Stuff” project – the Legion now has access to alchemical pain-killers that cause Corruption but can be used to treat wounds and remove Harm. The joke is that it’s basically Jaegermeister (the alchemist’s last name is Jaeger).
Also, the Marshal likes Aldermani, so a good number of our new recruits and a Specialist are Aldermani. (One note about the Roll20 sheets that provided some aggravation in using Aldermari legionaries is that you can’t change or replace the Heritage traits on the sheet.)
Back at Camp – Lorekeeper’s Notes
The Legion, recollected now and having struck a significant blow against Render’s forward momentum, has abandoned the fort on the Western Front to head to Plainsworth – accompanied by the soldiers of the Eastern armies who had been left stationed there, or who had survived Ettenmark and reached it to hide behind its walls. The Legion is in notably high spirits on the road, and the phrase “Boom! Splash!” can be heard throughout the camp, accompanied by much laughter.
This joviality is capped near the two survivors of the Ghost Owls’ tragic mission, or whenever anyone is near the wagon or tent the scout is in, recovering from the nearly fatal wounds delivered to her her by Zenya ‘the Sable Arrow’ – one of Render’s Black Oak lieutenants.
Despite taking a great deal of care in reaching the knights’ camp, the Owls were spotted, followed, and ambushed by Zenya, who put arrow shafts in half of her squad’s eyes before they even knew she was there…and one in Silver’s back as the survivors retreated. Certain the intel our captive had given us was deliberately misleading, Zora has ordered our captive knight hung from a tree on the roadway as a message to the Black Oak and to Render.
We’re not certain if the Commander is going to obey the request.
Our alchemist and medic have been at steady work brewing something the alchemist calls “the Good Stuff” from painkillers, the rot-gut the Legion calls drink, and…other things. The medic says it will help with our wounded, but warns it can be addictive and have other, worse, side-effects, so we shouldn’t use it unless necessary.
We could see the walls of Plainsworth before we arrived. Old Empire walls, half scavenged for other projects over the years, but strong and still manned. The people here are distrustful and suspicious. Guardsmens’ bows were trained on us as we approached, archers staring down at us from the walls, and the people hid in their homes and shops…until they saw Zora astride her horse, a regal goddess, shining with the Fire. She smiled at the children.