Friday, 26 February 2016

The Saga of Caradog ap Llewellyn - Chapter One

Once again the English crossed the border into my lands looking for gold and slaves. This time the invader was Guffer AEg-Stank, he of the strange accent.

I decided to confront them at a river crossing not far from the border and arrived at the place toward mid morn. The river is fast flowing and deep with two wooden bridges across it. In front of the left bridge on my side of the river is an area of rocky ground and I placed my archers within supported by four warriors. To the right of the rocky ground betwixt the two crossings is a crop field, high with winter barley, and I placed eight of my Hearthguard here so that they could respond to attack across either bridge. The ground around the right hand bridge is open and I placed twelve warriors opposite the crossing to defend it and supported them with my four remaining Hearthguard.  I took my place with the Hearthguard in the field and awaited Guffer.

He soon appeared across the valley and formed his warband to attack my position. He deployed two units of eight axe wielding Hearthguard and a unit of eight warriors opposite the left bridge. His last unit of eight warriors deployed close to the right hand bridge.
The English began banging weapons on shields to raise their courage. In response my brave boys sung Men of Harlech, drowning out the English clamour with Welsh harmony!
Guffer charged a unit of warriors and both units of Hearthguard across the left hand bridge, shouting encouragement from the rear. The warriors formed their shieldwall on my side of the river with a Heartguard unit on their right. The second Hearthguard unit formed on the bridge behind the warriors. All seemed winded by the exertion.

My archers pulled back deeper into the rocks and loosed a volley at the enemy warriors which dropped one of them. I pushed my Hearthguard out of the barley field at a run and showered the English Hearthguards on the bridge with javelins but only saw one fall.
Guffer had his warriors charge my Hearthguard and my men slaughtered them like spring lambs without loss. Only three of the enemy warriors escaped death and fell back toward the bridge. The English on the bridge moved toward my Hearthguard but were reluctant to close with my men, cowed no doubt by the sight of our shields covered in English gore. Guffer was seen puffing his way across the bridge.

The English were where I wanted them, trapped in the killing ground. My archers, warriors and Hearthguard launched a torrent of arrows and javelins against the enemy Hearthguard killing six of them.

There followed a lull in the fighting during which Guffer withdrew the remnants of his warriors and decimated Hearthguards while advancing his remaining Hearthguard unit across the front of my levy to confront my Hearthguard.

Once again we deluged his Hearthguards with missiles but this time they formed a tight shieldwall that saved them from loss.

Guffer strode to the front of his men and led them in a charge against my Hearthguard. The fight was red tooth and claw and despite their bravery my men gave ground with the loss of five of their number. Four of the English fell to our swords.

My archers shot down two of the English warriors on the bridge but once again the enemy Hearthguard survived our javelins including four of my own casts.

With relentless determination Guffer charged again with his four Hearthguard and with despair I witnessed the slaughter of my three Hearthguard with no loss to the English.
I stood alone amongst the trampled barley confronted by Guffer and his four men. My four warriors moved out of the rocks in support and threw javelins at the enemy Hearthguard who deflected every dart. I made four casts at them but only killed one. My archers killed the last English warrior on the bridge as I glimpsed their warriors on the opposite side of the river moving toward the bridge on my left.

I cursed my decision to place my other four Hearthguard so far away, it would cost me this day.

Guffer and his last three Hearthguard charged me raining down axe blows that that rent my armour and split my shield in twain. A blow to my helmet knocked me unconscious.
When I came to my men related the last of the battle to me. My four brave warriors gave their lives to save me and killed one of the enemies Hearthguard. I had managed to kill another before I went down. The last of them was shot down by my archers.
Guffers last unit of warriors crossed the bridge and covered his withdrawal but lost three men to my archers as they did so.

Guffer claims the fight as honours even because he knocked me down. I say he went home with his tail between his legs. Thanks be to God.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Saga of Einar Jonatansson - Chapter I

With the coming of the thaw my warriors grew restless for the vik.

I led them across the whale road to Ireland, the land of bog dwellers and little kings.

We landed in the north where the Norse Gael dwells. The race is a sorry dilution of noble Nordic blood with bastardised bog trotter.

In the early dawn we moved inland and found an abandoned longhouse with heart embers still glowing red. I sent my archers into the building and had them cut arrow loops in the walls while my hearthguards and warriors formed a shield wall outside.  To our left front loomed the only high ground in the area and opposite the longhouse on the other side of the clearing was a small wood, wreathed in an early morning mist that hung heavy across the land.

It wasn’t long before shadowy figures could be glimpsed in the misty half -light of dawn moving in the wood and to our front. Our visitors seemed nervous and over cautious.

I sent the warriors forward to tempt them in and ordered the archers out in support. Two groups of Norse Gael hearthguard appeared from the mist brandishing their dane axes and cursing us to the gods.

The archers shot two of the enemy down, forcing them to retire like whipped dogs.
My warriors moved bravely toward the wood and revealed enemy warriors also wielding dane axes. Our archers quickly send one of them to hell.

Finally the enemy found his courage and their warriors launched themselves at my warriors. Two of my brave lads met the axes of the enemy in personal challenge and went straight to Valhalla. 
Overwhelmed by the fierceness of the attack another five of my men fell to the deadly axes but took four of the enemy with them in red death.

My surviving warrior fell back as the archers shot down the last three enemy warriors and my shield wall advanced on the enemy.

The bloodletting seemed to have cowed the enemy who hung back from the fight again. The archers went forward and killed three more of their hearthguard with well-aimed shafts.

This proved too much for the Gaels who ran off into the mist.

A search of the longhouse rewarded us with hidden silver and an arm ring.

Hear my song of red war and tremble.

Author's Note

A great scholar writes:

"The Saga of Sagas comprises a series of poems and epic tales spanning across the British Isles and the north of what is now France. Its heroic narrative depicts the exploits of a collection of contemporary dark age warlords in their attempts to win glory through conquest and battle against each other. Compiled by an author known to history simply as Basculf the Unwashed, its narrative prose suggests that it in fact represents the work of a variety of different authors, each of whom relates the tale of one particular Warlord. Although stylistically varied, with narrative elements that belong to a bygone age, it lives in its own continuous present and hence remains a work of relevance to the modern day."

Well that's quite enough of that. This intermittent blog tells the tales of the rival Warlords in a Saga campaign run at Wycombe Warband. The posts making up the Saga of Sagas have been written by the players concerned from the point of view of their own forces. I make no claim whatsoever to their being wholly honest or accurately representative of events.

The rules used for the Campaign are a modified version of It's The Skald's Work... A Campaign for SAGA© from Tomahawk Studios & Gripping Beast, by Rich Jones, April 2012, modified for Wycombe Warband by Jon Houchin. You can download the original at

Basculf the Unwashed, writing on the first day of the Campaign