Monday, September 20, 2010

DSB Part 3. The Bridge



Having returned to Memel from his mission in Samogitia. Lothar von Schöenberg is burdened by dark thoughts for the future. Bloody rebellion is in the air and the leaders of the Ordenstaat appear to be indifferent to the consequences of their actions. Lothar sits in his cell at Schloss Oldenburg when suddenly he becomes aware of a distant voice, He lifts his head to see his younger brother Maximilian and his old friend Albrecht Mansfeld entering the chapel and seconds later the three men are laughing and slapping each others shoulders.

"Brother, I heard you were set upon by Rebels!" Maximilian exclaims, his eyes searching Lothar for visible evidence of combat.
I was but never mind. It was Gods will that I should survive, even though many did not. How are you both? What brings you here?"
"The Grand Komtur sent us to you. We are to assist you in your new task"
"What new task?"
Maximilian grins and produces a small roll of paper tied and sealed with a ribbon and the crest of the Ordenstaat.
"For you."

Lothar breaks the seal and his eyes narrow as he reads quickly. He looks at his brother and passes him the roll.
"If its war you want, then the Lord has provided."
Maxmillian shrugs and reads the parchment quietly.

My Dearest Lothar.
I pray your strength is sound for I have an urgent task for you. Father Vitalius of Talsi is to return to Memel at once, but the road from Kurland has been cut off at the Liba bridge by the Curonian Cheiftain Vironia who currently holds sway in the lands north of Liba. Take your brother and the men I have placed at his disposal and open the bridge before the night of the seventeenth of May. On that night, Father Vitalius will cross the bridge at midnight and you must bring him to Memel at all costs!
Großkomtur des Deutschen Orden
Franz Karl von Voldensee

"What do you think?" Maximillian asks Albrecht Mansfeld.
"It seems straight forward enough" Mansfeld replies. Lothar nods, but slowly.
"It is very straight forward but it is lacking in detail. How many men has the Grand Komtur sent?"
Maximilian leads the way to a small window which looks out onto the central courtyard of the castle and motions for Lothar to see for himself. Lothar peers down and is astonished to see a gang of rough and dirty men in muddied brown. He counts sixteen in total. None wearing mail, nor any insignia of the Ordenstaat.
"Who are they?" he asks in bewilderment.
"They came from Danzig but I believe they are Danes. Their leader calls himself Erik Gyldenløve."
"Danes?" Lothar shakes his head in surprise. "Why has his Excellency sent us Danes?"
"I have had occaison to judge them on the road here" Mansfeld interjects. "I don't believe they are all Danes. Some are Germans, from Lübeck if their accent is anything to judge by and at least one of them is a Rügian."
Lothar makes his way down to the courtyard where the motley band has gathered around the well head. One of their number stands up and bows slightly as the Teutonic knight approaches. He is a small man with wiry, red blond hair and a crooked nose.
"Erik Gyldenløve I presume?"
The man smiles and nods. "At your command My Lord" he replies in a strange accented voice.
"You are a Dane?" Lothar asks.
Gyldenløve nods and again his face splits in a wide toothy grin."Very much so!"
Lothar regards the strange man for a moment. There is something unusual about him, a certainty bordering on the cocky that belies the man's humble appearance. He regards the other men in the group and notes their many and varied weapons.
"You are mercenaries" he decides.
"In a manner of speaking, I suppose we are, but My Lord, do not hold it against us, for in this venture we act in accordance with the designs of the Grand Komtur."
"Of course" Lothar replies, "and please pardon my brusque manner, but what manner of men are you?"
"My men and I have had... experience with the Curonians and we were asked by Von Voldensee to assist you because we have made killing Curonians our particular specialty". Gyldenløve hefts a short lethal axe and waggles it in the air. "Mjölnar here has killed over thirty Curonians in just the last two years".
Regarding the slight glaze of madness in the small Dane's eyes, Lothar believes him. He nods to the short bows, javelins and hand weapons the men carry. "You are tirailleuren? ...Skirmishers?"
"Ja ja!"the men laugh and Gyldenløve chuckles.
"Let us say that".

Later in the evening, Lothar, Maximillian, Albrecht and Otto Bierhoff gather in s mall antechamber of the castle chapel.
"Well, what do you think Otto?"
Bierhof rubs his chin. "To be honest My Lord, I think they are free booters. There doesn't seem to be one God fearing man amongst them."
"Well, we are ordered to use them and frankly, I'd just as soon send Danes out to die than Germans, but only if they can fight! Can they do the job?"
"They handle themselves well" Otto nods, "and their weapons are all well maintained. Familiar in their hands. I think they are well used to killing, but I don't trust them".
The Germans all exchange knowing glances.
"I will take some of our own men with us" Lothar agrees, ”But you and Albrecht will remain here... I have other work for you. Important work!”
”As you wish brother” Maximilian replies, disappointed but with a raised eyebrow

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Starting

Having travelled in good time, Lothar and his men have been able to approach the bridge undetected and as dusk approaches they watch from afar as a camp fire lights up. On the bridge a farm wagon has been tipped to form a barricade and gathered around it are several armed men, though none appear to be heavily armoured. Lothar directs Erik and his men into position...

Draguni of Berzika and his men begin any where on the table, but must be guarding the bridge and at least half of their number are gathered at their camp site on the northern side of the river. Player 3 decides the location of the camp site.

Schöenberg and Gyldenløve begin off table and may come on from any side of the game table they choose, when ever they choose. Once they have entered the table top however, elements belonging to players 1 & 2 can not leave again without suffering a defeat.

Vironia is tracking Father Vitalius and arrives in round nine.

Map



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Forces


Player 1: Goeg

Lothar von Schöenberg
Otto Bierhoff.
4 x Teuronic arbelestiers
6 x Gyldenløve’s skirmishers


Player 2: Jan

Erik Gyldenløve
Father Vitalius
5 x Gyldenløve’s archers
5 x Gyldenløve’s skirmishers


Player 3: Rasmus

Draguni of Berzika
7 x Curonian skirmishers
7 x Curonian archers
Camp site marker (fire pit)

Player 4: Palle

Vironia
4 x Curonian cavalry
8 x Curonian light cavalry


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Victory conditions

Players 1 & 2 win by getting Father Vitalius safely across the bridge. Players 3 & 4 win by preventing Father Vitalius from crossing the bridge.
If the primary victory conditions are not met, either side can win by downing both enemy officers, or two thirds of the enemy force.

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Special Rules

Father Vitalius is a spy and has a healthy stealth bonus. He can ride a horse.

The farm building contains the decomposing bodies of a man and young boy and the stench makes the building undesirable. The building suffers a terrain disadvantage as a result, but can be endured by a man with a strong stomach.
There are no pigs left in the sty.

The river boat is swamped and cannot move. It can be used to fight upon, but suffers a terrain disadvantage.

Curonian light cavalry can exit the table top and move around its edge as if in difficult and then re-enter at another point. They cannot however cross the river whilst the barricade is in place.

Moving the barricade requires two men to roll against 5, or three men to roll against 4. Alternatively a horse with a rope can be used. This takes one round to attach the rope and one round to move the cart. The horse must roll against 2.

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Write up

This game wa splayed on thursday 16th Sept. 2010

Rasmus as Draguni began by deploying his troops, scattered all along the river's edge with archers hiding under cover on either side and his camp site some distance to the west of the bridge. On the bridge itself he placed three archers and two skirmishers.

Goeg as Lothar had the option of attacking from any direction he chose (his elements could swim across the river off map and attack when ready). He decided on a course of action that would attack the barricade on the bridge from both sides at once with Lothar surprise attacking from the north and Otto using his horse to pull the barricade off the bridge.

Jan as Erik deployed in various flanking positions to Lothar's men, with Erik himself taking up a position on the southern bank, to the east of the bridge, from where he could fire on the men guarding the barricade. Erik also sent two small groups of skirmishers across the river with Lothar to give support and help Father Vitalius reach the bridge.


Lothar's surprise attack (see above) began hostilities. Three of Erik's skirmishers followed the Teutonic knight into the fray in order to protect his rear whilst he slaughtered the poorly armoured bridge defenders. At the same time the Germans on the southern bank moved into firing range and the archers Erik had placed to the west of the bridge began firing at the Curonian camp site, killing Draguni who was on his horse.


Though it took longer than anticipated, Goeg's tactic worked. Lothar managed to clear the bridge (to the satisfaction of the Gullit) and Otto managed to pull the wagon back to form a new barricade from which the Germans might defend themselves against the rapidly approaching Curonian Cheiftain Vironia.

Erik's skirmish rear guard on the northern bank, held long enough to assist Lothar but eventually all died. The two remaining Skirmishers were escorting Father Vitalius but the arrival of Vironia sent them back under cover.


Palle as Vironia, Cheiftain of the Curonians arrived in pursuit of the spy, Father Vitalius. Upon finding the bridge barricade captured he deployed, then redeployed his light horse in various formations to bring his archers into an advantagous position. The Germans on the southern bank returned fire and Erik almost had Vironia.

Lothar and Otto bolstered the barricade with as many skirmishers as they could bring up but a withering attrition was picking off the lighter troops on both sides.


The game ended abruptly when Erik and his archers turned their fire once again on Vironia and he recoiled (fled) off the edge of the table.

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Aftermath

Tired and weary the Germans watch in amazement as the Curonians break off and retreat.
"What happened?" Lothar wonders aloud.
Erik Gyldenløve saunters over and grins.
"Did you see that?" he gestures to the northern bank as he shouts. "I didn't even hit him but he ran any way"
"You probably scared his horse" Otto replies. "You probably hit it on the back side."
Erik is laughing too hard to heed.
"He ran away the coward!"
"Perhaps" Lothar says as he stands in his stirrupts to get a better view, "but they've stopped running now. They're up on that hill, regrouping. I suggest we find Father Vitalius and get away from here as fast as we can."
Otto wastes no time. He gallops across the bridge shouting for the priest.
Erik peers in to the diminishing light.
"I don't see them" he mutters.
Lothar shouts orders to his archers and the Germans gather around the stinking farm house.
"Torch this building" Lothar commands. "By its light we may see the Curonians if they give chase"
As Otto and Father Vitalius return over the bridge. Lothar points to the farm wagon barricade.
"Push that back onto the bridge and torch it also. It may slow them down if they give chase".
As his men rush to do his bidding, Lothar accepts a water bag and takes a long grateful swig.
"Its thirsty work" Erik laughs. "Killing Curonians"

Three days later Lothar enters his cell in Schloss Oldenburg with Maximillian and Albrecht close behind him.
"What did you find out?" he asks
"You are not the only one with doubts brother" Maximillian's face is grave and troubled. "We spoke to Karl Heinrich as you suggested and to Lorentz Wolfenbüttel, von Lüneberg and Billung and they have all agreed to a meeting, but we could'nt reach Grubenhagen because he has been detained by von Oldenburg. Karl Heinrich informed us that von Oldenburg has recently received secret orders from the Großkomtur and this has something to do wth Grubenhagen's arrest."
Lothar frowns, then stands and paces the cell.
"Why would the Großkomtur arrest Grubenhagen? It doesn't make sense."
"I don't know" Maximilian replies, "but I don't like it"
"Grubenhagen was with von Voldensee and Metzger at Pinnow" Albrecht Mansfeld says softly. The Schöenberg brothers turn to regard him. Standing by the window hiw face in shadows, contrasted against the light.
"What happened at Pinnow?" Maximillian looks from Mansfeld to his older brother.
"There was a Polish attack. Von Voldensee reported it last year. An entire village was wiped out. The Order blamed the attack on Jogaila."
Mansfeld nods.
"Grubenhagen was there. He was since implied that the Poles were not responsible for the massacre. He didn't say who was but the inferrence appears to indicate some one within the order."
Maximilian inhales sharply. "Such an accusation would be treason, unless it were true"
Lothar shakes his head.
"Even if it were true. The Ordenstaat cannot tolerate internal dissentention with Vytautas so powerful. If von Voldensee is protecting some one, then he would have to remove Grubenhagen's loose tongue."
The three friends regard each other in silence.
"The Order is compromised by the greed and imcompetence of its own leadership" Albrecht Mansfeld states. Lothar nods.
"I swore to protect Christians, to further the cause of Christ on Earth."
"Whats to be done?" Maximillian asks.
Lothar meets his brothers eyes. Years of faithful service have brought him to the edge of open rebellion but his conscience remains clear.
"I have prayed for God's guidance and I know what to do. We must rescue Karl Grubenhagen!"

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Previous game write ups can be found on the DSB blog

2 comments:

Grimsby Mariner said...

Like that a lot. Excellent.

Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

The rescue will be fun, but the game was sadly unwinnable to us heathens. With enemy archers that had longer range, in cover, and behind a bottleneck there was no way we could cross that bridge. All we could try was to prevent the priest crossing the bridge. The very effective archers from their cover prevented that. That my überdice let me down with a "1", and thus had to leave us rather abrubtly, merely accelerated the defeat.