Saturday, 21 October 2017

From The Skald: The Battle of Jutland

And so Leif's warband, who had landed on the coastline of this very flat land, moved quickly inland. Cnut chose to meet him in a broad open area between two hills, where the ravens gathered, waiting for their feast.

His priest by his side, Dane-axe armed hearthguard to the left and warriors to the right, with two pairs of his hearthguard scouts to his far right, Leif advanced his line without hesitation. The gods were favouring him, it seemed, with more sixes on his Saga dice than he knew what to do with.

Opposite, Cnut stood ahead of the line of his men, his warriors on his right facing Leif, two units of hearthguard on the left facing the two pairs of Norse Gaels and the berserkers lurking at the back, trying to stay safe for the time being.

"Call that an Invasion?" Cnut taunted, and his men laughed. But it was as if Leif had not heard him, for the Norse Gael advance continued undaunted and there were even more sixes on the dice. Cnut, becoming slightly unnerved at the confidence of his opponent and the lack of space to move in, stepped a few paces back, feeling a little more comfortable closer to his men.

"It's a very aggressive invasion," he muttered to himself. He exchanged glances with the men next to him. It was time for the Danes to be aggressive now. On the left flank, Cnut's hearthguard charged one pair of the Norse Gael scouts. Backed by the confidence of a six in their How Brave Are You? box, one of the Norse Gaels stepped forward and challenged: "Who's next?" he shouted. After a short pause, briefly considering and dismissing the alternatives, one of the Danes stepped forward. 

The dice gods are fickle, and at this point they changed sides.

"Er.. you were next..." said the Dane as the Norse Gael hearthguard fell in a pool of his own blood, and melee ensued, another man falling on either side.

Cnut smiled. With few Saga dice left on the Norse Gael battle-board, it was time to send the berserkers in, and so they charged the unit of Dane Axe-armed warriors ahead of them. The combination of Dane Axes, Ragnarok, Valhalla and very large handfuls of dice made mutual annihilation inevitable, and thus they all died.

"The boats are still there if you want to go back!" jeered Cnut, trying to hide the worried look on his face. But Leif was having none of it. On the Norse Gael right flank the second hearthguard pair joined the fight, while Leif's remaining warriors threw their javelins at the bondi opposite, rather rudely killing one of them.

With his last unblooded unit of hearthguard beside him, Cnut led a charge into the Norse Gael warriors, three of his men falling for the loss of seven of the enemy, the last Norse Gael warrior fleeing for his life.

A temporary success, but the situation was touch and go. Cnut stood with one faithful bodyguard beside him in the centre of the field, a unit of five of his warriors some distance to his right, two hearthguard running to support him, but still too far away, on his left. Leif stood dangerously close to Cnut, his priest at his side, supported by three Dane axe-armed hearthguard. His last surviving warrior was prudently keeping a safe distance away at the back.

"We shall lose the game to win the game!" Cnut cried, confidently. And as his men puzzled over exactly what he meant, Leif and his remaining hearthguard charged. Now Troll-Hide and Son of Odin are all very well, but even with two extra defence dice and an ablative hearthguard it's a challenge to survive thirteen hits. And thus Cnut fell to the ground.

Leaderless they might now be, but the Danes refused to surrender. Calling to Valhalla, the warriors charged the Viking hearthguard, seeking vengeance. calling to Valhalla, the blades of both sides flew as they gloriously chopped each other to bits, and all were slain. 

The last two Danes on the field, the two hearthguard who had failed to get to their Lord before he had fallen, backed away, but not quite far enough. Leif called on help from the dice gods, and again the sixes came. Three Saga dice became six, and thus Leif, alone, his battle board loaded, charged and cut down both of the enemy where they stood.

Victorious, Leif laid claim to the land.

Cnut, who had somehow survived, nursing his wounds, sneaked away to fight another day.

And the ravens began their feast.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Skald's Tale (3): The Year of the Haggis

Book 2 of The Eye of the Raven

Action during Season 2 of The Eye of the Raven
Sing, o skald, of battles new,
Of action during Season Two,
Of clash of shield and sword.
When raiding warbands came and went
(Some of them from the continent)
And the Scots headed the leaderboard.

It all began when Aethelflaed
Invaded Jorvik, where she stayed.
The Anglo-Danes almost lost heart - 
It seemed the end of John's campaign;
But luckily for the Anglo-Dane
It turned out to be a false start.

The helpful ref who came along
Declared The Penny far too strong
And Aethelflaed agreed.
So the clocks wound back
(There had been no attack).
Aarold got off scot free.

So it all began another day
When leek-prowed boats landed in Norway,
And Welsh caught Viking half asleep.
They harried and burned within the fold,
But all they could find was Ubba's gold
(No sign of any sheep).

The Irish met the Danes in battle
Claiming back their stolen cattle
From Cnut Autokorrekthater.
Both sides would live another day
(Each said the enemy ran away)
For they fought an epic draw.

Cnut, now seeking battle worthier
Raided Anglo-Danish East Anglia.
Warlords met - Viking and Anglo-Dane.
Another blow for Anglo-Danish luck,
Campaign progress so nearly f***ed
When Aarold was brutally slain.

But fortunes changed with Aarold dead,
When the crown passed to rich dad Alfred.
He attacked those men in dresses,
The Scots, who so strongly defended
Sent the Danes home empty-handed
Calling them a bunch of Jessies.

Tavish, vict'ry to his liking
Moved now 'gainst Iceland Viking:
Vengeance of a sort was willed.
Though Gunnblasdt fought a mighty battle,
He was scared off (and his cattle)
When Tavish lifted up his kilt.

Meanwhile (after rules renew)
The Saxons invaded York (round two);
This time all would not be cancelled.
A different end - Saxons did not settle!
Alfred Steptoe showed his mettle,
And t'was Aelthelflaed that fled.

The Franks then sought to make their mark,
Their warband raiding Hedemark,
Seeking gold in their adventure.
Ubba and Charlemal clashed together;
The Norseman died defending his treasure;
Franks made off with his golden denture.

Ubba's heir, young Ubbason
Determined to be troublesome,
Wanted a saga all his own.
But stopped by Scots before a ford
His Vikings got savagely mauled,
And the Jarl had to row his own boat home.

Finally, Sir Sybald's Normans
Arrived in East Wessex without warning,
Apparently to refight Hastings.
But Aethelflaed's Anglo-Saxon force,
After a long march from up north,
Gave them a right good pasting.

Thus left alone til this year's end,
Leif's Norse Gaels (who chose to defend)
Couldn't keep top table status.
Tavish's Scots now head the scale;
And hence this chapter of our tale
We name The Year of the Haggis.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

From the Scots Skald: Battle of the Burn

Wi' thair stoatin' win ower th' Vikin' scrotes o' th' land o' aice, 
Tavish McTavish, Laird o' all th' Noarth 
Teuket aisy in hi' stoatin' loaby 
Wi' a richt banquit o' braw Aislandic baifsteake, 
A-washed doon wi' hunners lairge o' mead 
N' cratur, o' coorse. 

Whin a' o' a' sudd'n thare wis a fairtin' blast 
O'win beneath th' kilts o' a' the noo 
Es th' door wur flung waide 
N' yin o' his scoots boalt'd in, all a-hollerin': 
"M'laird, thare ur mair Vikin' readers aff th' coost!"

Th' clan cheif turn'd tae Ewen Mea 'n' curs'd, 
Thain staun 'n' shoot'd tae a': 
"Mair o' they blowdy heairy, howfin Vikin's 
Aantae learn Scots manaers! 
Wae shell le'rn thaim howfur thay sae 
'Awright' in Glescae toon!"

S'oan th' neist pure wide bricht sunlit marnin' 
Tavish 'n' his main, ilk wi' a heid stowed oot 
O' rampaigin' beasties wi' maetal hamm'rs, 
Set aff o'er th' moars.
"Thair's a wee burn neart th' sea, 
Whaur we wull stoap thaim. 
Waill cetch wi` thaim thare 
N' gie thaim wha' thay'r deu.
Th' burn wull run rid wi' Vikin' blud by th'aind o' th' dae” 
Tavish grinn'd thro' hais theck rid fluff.

N' soon th' braive Scots, 
Th'sporrans a-swingin' wi' th' spaid o' thair mairch, 
Hud raich'd th' bonnie banks o' th' burn. 
Wi' warriors tae th' richt 
N' his picked main tae th' laift, 
Thay gawked 'n' weet'd. 

N' twas nae lang afair th' bastad Ubbas'n, 
Nabut a wee upstairt Viking 
Wi' a baird na hearier thain Tavish's knee-fluff 
Arraiv'd wi' his mangy excuise fur a warbaind. 
Th' hearthguard wa facin' th' Scots warriars, 
Ai' feartie-cat archers a-lurkin' in th' raucle beyon. 
Wi' warriars oan th' ither flaink, 
Th' Jimmy his-sel stoad wi' th' berserks, 
Skulkin' behin'.

Tavish, wi' his boaws, 
Staun fairless in th' centur o' his main 
As a true wairlord shuid.

Intae th' waetair th' Vikin' hearthguard charged, 
Shoutin' abuse 'n' insults 
Ain a forn taung thet th' Scots dingyed, 
Tho' yin Jimmy faell tae th'nmy arraes a-flaein' o'erheed. 
Meatin' th' Scots oan th' aither baink, 
Drookit wi' waetair maex'd wi' Vikin' blud, 
A' wur pat tae th' soard 
Whail bit twa braive Scotsmen faell.
Whail oan th' ither flaenk, 
Th' Vikin's charg'd, tae be met in th' burn by Tavish's maen, 
Kilts a-flyin' waild. 

Th' Vikin' hud nae nae plaice tae gae, 
Nae th' taime tae reas thair shiels 
Afore th' Scots wur amoang thaim, 
N' unprepair'd, thae tae faell,
Fur it steals a brave Jimmy 
Tae fend aff a Scotsman's waip'n so! 

As th' burn bolted wi' thair blud, 
Th' lest o' they Vikin's faell awae.
At lest Ubbason th' bas, 
Ainraig'd, roar'd his greet 
N' charg'd hissael thro' th' wataer, 
Hais berserks, wi' na arm'r 'n' sportin' bit a stitch, basaide. 

They brave maen faill tae haird Scots stael, 
N' Ubbason, aloane, 
Wis stabb'd up th' jacksie 
Sae baid thet he cuid dae na mair bit tae stammle awa', 
Yin haun pokin' twa fing'rs a-defiance, 
Th' ither cauvrin' his wound'd bahookie.

N' as th' lest o' th' enmy wur slean, 
Tavish 'n' Ewen gawked th' dregs 
Run beck tae thair boets 'n' slink awa' hame, 
Smilin' at th' thaught o' Ubbason, 
Roawin' his ain boet hame sittin' oan hi' ain bluidin erse.

N' th' burn bolted rid wi' Viking blud.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

From the Frankish Skald: The Song of Charlemal

I - Ubba's Last Stand

Charlemal, new-crowned Frankish King
Had heard the tales of Viking wealth
So sought to take it for himself.
His longships sailed upon the wind
Northward o'er the waves that rolled.

In Hedemark they made landfall
There to raid with axe and sword
The land of Ubba, Viking Lord.
The Jarl with greatest wealth of all
So rich even his teeth were made of gold.

Charlemal,  King of the Franks, stood on the shore as his men disembarked from their longships, and sighed. They had landed some hours before sunrise in this sheltered cove, the closest beach suitable for their ships to their prize, a building of evident importance. It solemnly stood at the top of a cliff that they had spotted from some distance offshore the previous evening. Almost certainly it was some sort of temple to one of the strange gods of the pagans who inhabited these Norse lands. And, more importantly, it was almost certainly filled with gold and other treasures - or so he had assured his men.

But it had taken an age to unload the ships in the darkness and make ready for the journey inland, and the Frankish scouts had searched for longer than expected before they had found a safe route to the top of the cliffs. Worst of all, they had spotted Viking lookouts and without doubt the alarm had been raised and the defenders would be on the alert. Not the ideal situation, but it was far too late to change the plan now.

More than an hour had passed before the warband reached the top of the cliff. The path, once they had found it, had been easier to climb than expected for the men, but getting the stumbling horses along it safely before the sun had risen had been a challenge. Once at the top, though, the going was easy towards the building - there was even a path to follow. The scouts led the way as the sun rose to reveal the mouth of the Great Fjord of Hedemark in the distance, and with the light, their journey, along with Charlemal's mood, eased considerably.

It was not to last for long. News from the scouts was that a baggage train, escorted by warriors and berserkers, was moving inland from the building. Charlemal reasoned quickly - the alarm raised, the defenders must have understood the target of the raiders and were moving their valuables away into safety - it was time to act. He ordered his men to change direction, cutting across the low hills inland instead to cut off the path of the baggage train.

The Franks caught up with their target at a small hamlet tucked away between hills and moorland. Two units of Viking warriors and a handful of berserkers kept close formation beside two carts and several pack horses laden with goods. A brawny Viking warlord was barking orders at them sharply. Occasionally the sunlight glinted off his one, golden, tooth. Ubba, Jarl of Norway, was here in person. Charlemal had heard the tales and knew of his adversary, a veteran of many battles in many different lands. He ordered his men into formation, archers to his right in one of the buildings, more to his centre in the open, and two smaller units in reserve at the rear, and he and his knights on the left, mounted and ready to swing around his enemy's flank when the moment was right.

Slowly, the baggage train advanced. Warriors protected its flanks while the berserkers held back, keeping their distance from the threat of the Frankish archers, while Ubba Goldtooth, in the centre, considered his options. It was clear that the Franks lay in his path to victory and the Jarl was intent on fighting his path through. Partially shielded from the bowmen by a small hill, the Vikings advanced.

Charlemal, battle-seeking Frankish King
Had found the Vikings with their wealth.
Taking it now was down to himself.
But his battle board was horribly confusing
Regardless of the dice he'd just rolled.

Charlemal ordered his men to wait. It was tempting to attack immediately, but there was advantage in preparation and patience, so he readied his force for a counterattack. The Vikings, emboldened by the apparent inaction of their foe, pressed on, but almost before they could move, the foremost of their warriors were charged by the Frankish knights, who forced them back without loss and, though surrounded, threatened the first of the baggage carts.

Charlemal, counter-charging Frankish Lord
Surprised the Viking warriors now.
His horsemen charged and mowed them down.
But now alone in the middle of the board
They were at the mercy of their berserker foe.

Ubba, surprised and enraged, signalled to his berserkers, and charged with them into the knights, who were doing all they could to keep their formation in readiness for the inevitable counterattack. And fortune was on their side. Mud, from a small stream leading down the hill, or something similar, must have caused the Vikings to be unsure of their footing, for their attack was half-hearted and the knights stood their ground, while several of the berserkers met their death beneath horse's hooves, and were driven back.

Charlemal's pious Frankish knights
With God's strength and armour, stayed
The charging berserkers and Ubba's blade
They forced them back and were now in sight
Of a baggage cart laden with gold.

Charlemal's emboldened Frankish knights
Readied themselves, charged once, then twice
Plundering the cart, claiming their prize
While the rest of the baggage took flight
On long flank manoeuvre to go.

With the sense that destiny was on their side, the knights charged the baggage several times before the cart was destroyed and plundered. Losing men in the inevitable counter-charge, they fell back, but enough damage had been done. The Vikings were in disarray, berserkers and many warriors lying dead on the hill, and only a few brave men holding their positions close to Ubba's side.

Seeing the main threat to the remaining baggage from Charlemal himself, Ubba ordered his baggage to find a way around the hamlet to escape. He and his warriors would hold the Frankish warlord where he was while they made their bid for freedom.

Ubba, embattled Norse Viking
Drew his men close and once more charged
Engaging Charlemal and his bodyguard
Both warlords fiercely fighting
Neither giving any ground.

With their leader in battle with the Viking Jarl, Frankish resources were stretched to the limit and it was all they could do to send one unit of archers on a wide march to the left flank in an attempt to hold off the baggage. Just in time, they were able to take position to the side of the hamlet, blocking the escape route for the remains of the Viking baggage train. In the meantime, supported by Warriors, Charlemal and Ubba faced each other off at the side of the hill. Again and again they met in battle and warriors of both sides died, before Ubba, in a wild charge, met Charlemal in single combat.

Charlemal, who steel cannot bite
Met Ubba's charge; his blade was true
(The Viking Jarl was run right through)
And Ubba, giving up the fight
Fell dead upon the ground.

Charlemal had anticipated this moment well, and met the Jarl's charge with even greater force. Ubba's blade could not pierce the Frank's armour, nor could he withstand the ferocity of his foe's defence, and this was Ubba Goldtooth's last stand, falling on the bloodied hillside to Charlemal's blade.

The Viking force, reduced to a single man, gave up the fight and fled the field. The Franks, rejoicing and not a little surprised at the fortune of their venture, rounded up the baggage and returned with their plunder to their boats.

Celebrations were in order, for Charlemal's first victory. Mead flowed, and Charlemal ordered a great banner to be made to honour Ubba's noble death as well as the brave deeds of battle done by the Franks that day, to be carried into battle flying from a pole topped with the most treasured plunder of that day - Ubba's golden tooth.

Charlemal, victorious Frankish Lord
Let the last Viking warrior run to fight again.
While his men rounded up the baggage train
And took all the treasure home with them, including
Ubba's tooth of gold.

The eldest son of the late Ubba Goldtooth, Jarl of Norway, sat at the head of the table in the Great Hall, brooding. The smell of charred wood from the boat burial was still strong on the fur lining of his cape. The throne he occupied felt more unfamiliar than uncomfortable. He knew the men before his expected him to stand and speak shortly, before he would let them feast and drink, celebrating his father's entry to Valhalla. But he was judging the moment, timing his move with care. They would assume he was managing his grief, but the truth was much more complicated than that. It wasn't as if he hadn't given his father the respect he had deserved, or that he would miss him now he was gone. But he had longed for years to take his father's place and sit in this throne and lead. And now, as his father watched from Valhalla, he was expected to do just that.

The Frankish upstart Charlemal - the foreigner who had has raided his father's - his - lands would die for this deed, to be sure. The blood feud had already been declared. But in the back of his mind Ubbason (his father had lacked imagination when naming his children) felt he had been done a favour, by being brought to his inheritance earlier and without any need for scheming on his part. And his father had died with great honour, as a Viking should. He would be respected for that, and for the leadership he would show in the years to come.

Ubbason the Bastard stood, as the Great Hall fell silent, and with forced tears in his eyes, but real passion in his heart, he made the greatest speech of his life so far....

Monday, 24 July 2017

From the Scots Skald: Th' Raid Oan Iceland

T'was noo th' time
Fur th' Scots tae raid
A fair way oaf tae th' land o' ice.

Tavish McTavish th' Laird o' th' North
Hid awa' his dosh 'n' set aff
Awae wi' his warband tae gang revenge
Oan Leif th' Jammy Bastard
By attacking his oathsworn Gunnblasdt th' Savage.

This wid be a warnin' - neist time
Tavish wid stickone oan heim insteed.
Thay crossed th' wild sea tae th'
Frozen shores o' that bleak land.
Keepin' edgy, in na time,
Tavish’s scoot hud fun a herd
O' prime hielan beef a-grazin' nearby.

But th' cattle wur protected
By some Viking warriors anaw berserkers.
Tavish hud come prepar'd,
His brave Scots warriors
Armed wi' pointy blades
Sportin' thair finest tartan kilts.
Th' gods wur wi' him tae,
Fur at his side wis his shaman Ewan Mea.

Th' Vikings tho' didnae fair rammy.
Th' wee feartie-cat Gunnblast hud tried instead
Tae pay aff some ae Tavish's men.
Bit a few pointy wurds
'N' th' threat o' a curse
Set th' Scots in order again.

"Whit dae ye think ye'r daein' ye jupin' skivers?
Ah ken ye'r a' stingy gits
Bit dae ye nae hae some loilty?"
Ewan Mea cried oot.
"Awa' ye go ya wee bastirts
Or ah'll gie ye a skelp!"

Sae thay wid hauld fur Tavish’s signal
'N' then tak' th' naurby kine
Bringin' thaim back tae th' ships.

Tavish, wi' Ewan Mea 'n' his picked men
Win' toward th' furthest herd
Behind some rocky ground.
As th' Scots approach'd
Th' Vikings wur in disarray,
Fur thair Laird hud yit tae turn up!
Thay didnae ken whither tae staun thair ground or bolt.

Slowly, thay retreated
Sae Tavish signalled his warband,
An' th' rammy stairted.

At lest, Gunnblast 'n' his men arrived,
Bae which time th' berserkers wur
Filled wi' rage an' in a richt pelter.
Th' Viking warriors a'vanc'd,
Attackin' Tavish’s kilted guard.
T'was a bloody stramash,
Bit th' Scots fought lik' wild beasties.
Wi' th' gods oan thair side murdurred a' th' enemy
At th' cost o' bit yin o' thair ain.

T'was nae time tae depairt,
'N' th' Scots headed fur thair boats.
Gunnblast wis fair rummled win he saw
Howfur mony o' his kine hud bin nicked.
His berserkers charged,
Yhey hairy naked fanatics
Foamin' at th' geggy as thay bolted.
Brave Tavish turned
Tae coupon thaim alone,
'N' at th' lest moment as th' berserkers charged,
In true Scots defiance,
Tavish took a maddy
An' pure wide he hurled his kilt aside
'N' exposed a' he hud tae th' wurld.

Sic bravery is mair than even berserkers kin tak'!

Thair attack stall'd, stutter'd, falter'd, 'n' fail'd,
Th' berserkers retreated in horror 'n' confusion
'N' hoofed it a' the wey hame.

Th' battle wis won, th' cattle nicked,
Revenge oan Leif th' Jammy wis taken.

'N' in Iceland to this dae tales ur tellt
Aroond campfires at nicht
Tae beware th' weap'n a Scotsman wields beneath his kilt.

From the Scots Skald: Awa' Wi' Ye Anglae-Danes!

Brave Laird Tavish escorted hi' baggage 
wi' a unit o' hearthguard, 'n' a unit o' warriors
N' brought alang his personal shaman fur guid luck. 
Th' traitorous scumbag Alfred 
O' th' sassenach horde
Hid lik' a feartie-cat 
Wi' twa units o' warriors,
A unit o' hearthguard wi' dane axes 
An' a unit o' levy bowmen.

Baith armies faced ilk ither o'er th' battlefield
Th' scots howling insults 'n' battle cries
Th' sassenachs cowering lik' li'l moosies.

Wi' baith o' Tavish’s units fernent th' baggage
Th' foremaist shift by th' whinging sassenach de'il 
Wis tae advance his hearthguard 'n' levy
N' then shoot th' brave Scots warriors
Th' useless dregs killing nae but yin man. 

Seein' th' approachin' ambush
Brave Tavish drew his baggage tae his richt 
Intae clear land beyond a wood. 
He pat is hearthguard 'n' warriors in th' wey tae mak' a screen
Afore th' nae-gid Anglae-Danish scrotes.

Huvin blootert awfy much cratur th' nicht afore,
Nae a' o' Tavish’s baggage cuid keep up! 
Th' lest unit wis exposed tae th' bowfing Anglae-Danes. 
Gi'n it laldy, 
See'n th' opportunity tae destroy 'n' plunder, 
Gallus Alfred sen' in his four hearthguard 
All a-chargin' an' wavin' their lang axes 
Agin th' rear baggage unit. 

Th' attack wis richt bonnie
Bit at a cost o' sassenach blud
Cuttin' th' hearthguard by hauf. 

Wi' yin baggage unit destroy'd
N' th' ither twa an' th' warriors fatugued
By th' experience o' seeing a unit destroy'd 
Tavish cried upon his shaman 
Fur hulp 'n' inspiration.

"Do yer dinger, ye reekin' tumshie, 
Or I’ll gie ye a skelpit lug!"
The Laird holler'd
An' th' order wa' carried oot forthwith.

Fortuin wis truly oan the side o' th' brave.
Th' three fatigued units wur claise enough 
Tae hear th' master’s wairds o' gumption
Tha lifted th' spirits. 
Tavish 'n' his baggage continued 
Tae shift aroon th' wood 
Harass'd by doaty sassenach archers. 

Wi' face like a skelped erse, 
Crabbit Alfred sen' his warriors
Aroond th' back o' th' wood 
Tae cut aff Tavish’s escape. 

Wi' an opportunity tae attack anither baggage, 
Grippie Alfred charged in yin o' his warrior units.
Bu' stoatin' the script don’t aye gang th' wey thay plan,
An' afore th' warriors cuid reach th' baggage 
Thay met th' end o' Tavish’s hearthguard screen. 

Tho' 'twas eight agin four th' battle-board wis gey muckle 
In Tavish’s favour, 
Fa' th' warriors wur reduced tae yin man in nae time. 

Seeing th' safety o' th' buird lip loomin' 
Tavish gaed fur it
An' sen' his baggage intae safety.

Reelin' fae th' massacre o' his warriors, 
Alfred di' hi' dinger, 
But whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye, as thay dae say. 

An' th' escape o' th' baggage wis th' final straw, 
Fur Alfred wi' th' remains o' his warband
Headed hame.

While wi' yin voice a' th' Scots a-cried:

"Awa' n bile your heads, an' dinnae haste ye back, ye bampot Jessies!"

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Skald's Tale (2): The Year of the Badger

Book 1 of The Eye of the Raven

The badger is a creature that is much pressed upon, yet which when cornered fights back strongly, often this gaining the upper hand on its many adversaries. Just like Norse Gaels.

The action during Campaign Season 1

Sing, o skald, your tale of old
Of those six years when warlords boldly
Fought to rule the land.
A time of rival conquerors
Who strove for kingship over all
To take the upper hand.

Anglo-Sax and Anglo-Dane
Contest England's divided plain,
Their armies poised for war.
While in the mountains Welsh and Scots
Contrive their own ambitious plots
Of conquest over all.

Across the sea, Norman and Frankish
Lords consult with men of rank
To justify their ruling right;
Despite the backing of the pope
Their claims, they know, are based on hope.
So they prepare to fight.

The Irish king kneels down to pray
That not long now will come the day
That he shall rule o'er all.
While on the isles at the world's edge
Hairy Viking warlords pledge
To pillage, raid and steal.

Amidst them all, a Norse Gael tribe
That claimed the hills about Strathclyde
Appeared the one to beat.
Its warlord Leif of little might
(He'd never won a single fight)
Was seen as easy meat.

The Scots played out ambitious plans
Advancing toward Norse Gael lands,
Attempting to invade there.
But Lucky Leif had made a pact
And his Oathsworn was the first to act,
Raiding Scots Dalraida.

Gunnblasdt's Vikings, keen to fight
Attacked the Scots before they might
Into Norse Gael lands come.
Their warbands fought across a burn,
But Icelanders were forced to turn
And run away back home.

Undeterred, the Scots advanced -
Considering the Norse Gaels pants
Against a foe as strong in size.
But they were met at mountain pass
And kicked quite sorely up the arse
Much to their surprise.

Leif, enthused by his success
Sent a warband to oppress
The Danes across the sea so blue.
They sneaked across the Danish plain
Returning, herd of cows obtained
Before the Danes could even moo.

The Danes were raiding elsewhere though,
Against their blood-sworn Irish foe
Conn Cétchathach, Irish chief.
They disappeared as fast they came
The Irish could not stop them gain
Their cut of Irish beef.

Thence back to Lucky Leif, at pains
To defend his land from Anglo Danes
Attacking down a mountain slope.
They battled hard and battled strong
But Anglo Danes did not last long
Before they gave up hope.

Finally, near winter tide
A Welsh warband raided Strathclyde
In search of vulnerable sheep.
Though finding only herds of cow
They did their business anyhow
And went back home complete.

Meanwhile Norman, Norway Vike,
Frank and Anglo-Sax alike
Took no part in this year's action.
So at the end of season one
With this year's battles all now done
The Norse Gaels are the leading faction.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Skald's Tale (1): The Eye of the Raven

Eye of the Raven - Campaign Map

The Eye of the Raven watches over all, as plots are hatched, jealous raiders look across the seas and invaders make their plans for conquest.

At the start of our campaign eleven factions are poised for conquest. On the mainland of England, a fragile peace exists between the Anglo-Saxons in the south and, within the Danelaw, the Anglo-Danes. Northumbria, isolated, remains under the protection of the queen of the Anglo-Saxons. To the west, the land is threatened by the restless Welsh, while the wild Scots who occupy the mountainous lands to the north are an ever-present threat to more civilised lands. Between them lie the Norse Gaels in the mysterious hills of Strathclyde, while across the Channel, to the distant south, ambitious Normans and Franks look to expand their own empires. And watching all of this, jealous Warlords from the island kingdoms far across the seas - the Irish, and three nations of Vikings - arm themselves to raid and plunder wealthier foreign lands.

 And so, the struggle to find the King of all the Lands begins...

At the beginning of Part II of the Saga of Sagas, a great scholar again writes:

"Our Saga of Sagas now moves on, this time its tale expanding to the islands around Britain and as far as Iceland. Once more, its heroic narrative tells of the struggle for power between dark age warlords, some of whom we have met before in earlier tales."


And so this intermittent blog continues as a new Saga campaign at Wycombe Warband begins. This time, our campaign uses reules modified from Age of the Wolf, incorporating the campaign map shown above. All the details are posted at Enjoy!

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Le Chanson de Bob - Chapter IV

Many months have passed
Since last we sang
Of Robert Eponge
And his cheesy Breton knights

And in that long time
The people of Brittany have celebrated
A lot
With feasting,
Substantial cheese consumption
And an excess of wine,
Curious liqueurs,
Crème de coing,
And even the nasty stuff that people in this part of the world call beer

So much so
That the hangover of the Bretons
Lasted even longer than the celebrations.

But a few of those
Who survived the party
Recalled the exploits of their hero
Robert Eponge
And the battle they won
Which is scribed here by our skald
Basculf the Unwashed
Recalling the tale
As best as anyone can remember
Filling in gaps in memory
With suitably apocryphal embellishment

It was on an open field
On the borders of Brittany
That a force of brave and particularly hairy Vikings
(Not for the first time)
And their Warlord
Einar Jonatansson
(That's right, the other one with the saga written in this blog)
Were met by Robert's brave Bretons

Einar Jonatansson
Unlike certain other leaders of hairy Viking factions
(see Chapter II)
Was very much not unready
Although he did make it clear he wasn't particularly happy about the openness of the terrain, the fact that he was facing Bretons, and various other matters, while his skald took notes, just in case.

The fearless Bretons, however
Might in this case themselves have been considered unready
For they were unfamiliar with recent changes
That had been made to the code of battle
The message evidently failing to reach them
(Or more likely they had not read their email or looked at Facebook recently)

And hence
Their order of battle proved particularly poorly thought out
Fielding one very large unit of knights
That after deployment realised they had left their War Banner at home

Thought Robert Eponge
Taunted Einar Jonatansson
Jeered the hairy Viking horde
Wrote Einar Jonatansson's skald
Thought the banner bearer
Who understood that someone
Was in for a good slapping
(Probably him)
And would have said
"It's not my fault!"
But for the fact that
It was

The hairy Vikings charged
The Bretons fled, shooting
The hairy, sweating Vikings charged again
The Bretons scattered, shooting
The hairy, sweating, tired Vikings charged once more
But the Bretons would not be caught
And shot them again
And again

Though war-banner-less
The speed of the Breton horsemen
Aided by the openness of the battlefield
Combined with their use of the incredibly cheesy In All Directions ability
Meant the Vikings
Hairy, sweating and slow
Could not catch them

Jeer as they might
They were slowly
(Slower than if the Bretons had brought their War Banner, at least)
Picked off by relentless Breton javelins

The Vikings
And incredibly frustrated with this most irritating enemy
(Though not by any means disgraced)
Were considered defeated

The Viking skald was politely informed of precisely what would happen to him if he wrote about this in the Saga of Einar Jonatansson
And the Vikings called it a day and went home

As said above
With his final victory
There was much rejoicing in the land
King Bob was proclaimed
The greatest of all Warlords
And the Bretons
Were declared
The cheesiest
Of all factions
(Excepting House Rules and/or changes in the official FAQ)
The least likely to be invited to take part in future campaigns

At last
Our saga comes to an end

Thanks be to God


There is some talk
Of Robert Eponge
And his Breton knights
Turning up at a tournament somewhere
So as to demonstrate to the world
The power of Breton cheese

Well, you never know…