Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Part one. A skirmish at Karlshof

2nd May. 1409.

Lothar von Schöenberg and retinue, are returning from a diplomatic mission to Vilnius when they are approached by several ragged figures on the Nemunas Road. As his companions hold back, one man in weather worn and dirty clothes steps forward with both arms raised. Lothar's sergeant-at-arms Otto Bierhoff moves to meet him and for a few moments the Teutonic Knight and his men wait in silence as the burly soldier bends to listen to the broken voice of the traveller.

Biehoff returns to stand by the shoulder of Lothar von Schöenberg's horse.
"My Lord, he says they are Germans fleeing Samogitien. He says the Lithuanians are massing an army there."
Lothar von Schöenberg straightens in his saddle and fixes his eye on the paltry band. He motions their spokesman forward.
"Is this true?" he asks. The man answers in flawless German.
"Many speak of it in Samogitian and many Germans are fleeing. Before we crossed the river, there were many others on the road"
Lothar has little time to worry about refugee's. He nods impatiently.
"But have you seen this army yourself? With your own eyes?"
The man shakes his head wearily, hope fading at the Knights brusque manner.
"There was a man" he mumbles. "A man in Karlshof. He was there. He saw the Lithuanians mustering."
"Did he say where?" Otto Bierhoff asks in his soft gruff voice.
Lothar looks back along the road. Behind him, his men are still strong. Rested. They watch with alert eyes, knowing the game is afoot.
"How far is it to Karlshof?"
The refugee shrugs. His eyes have lost their lustre and he shuffles impatiently. Heavy shouldered and scowling, Otto Bierhoff grabs the slender mans cloak and shakes him slightly.
"Answer His Lordship or I'll teach you your manners!"
"A day at most" the refugee gasps. "You can cross the river at..." he waves his hand back along the road.
"Release him" Lothar steers his horse in a heavy turn, its eyes rolling slightly at his suddenness.
"Sire, have mercy!" the wretch falls to his knees as Otto Bierhoff gives him a final push. The man's companions dither, unable to decide whether to come to their companions aid. Lothar looks back over his shoulder. The man kneels, exhausted, his shoulders shaking.
"What is the name of this man, the man who saw the Lithuanian army?"
"Möller My Lord. Gerd Möller. Have mercy!"
Lothar nods to Otto Bierhoff who pauses to fumble in his pouch. As the men-at-arms turn, their horses stamping and snorting, he throws a handful of small coins to the kneeling man.
"Go with God" he says.

Lothar von Schöenberg and his retinue arrive in Karlshof the following morning. Karlshof is nothing but a small collection of hovels and houses around a crossroads. The Germans find that a band of Lithuanian's have moved into Karlshof during the night and have set up camp. Several German refugee's are visibly being held hostage and several others are already lying dead at the road side. As the Teutons approach, one of the dead sits up and holds out a skinny arm in supplication. It is an old woman, coughing and trembling, her voice is a high pitched whine of pain. Lothar stops his horse and regards her. Ahead, several of the Lithuanians come out into the road to regard the Germans, then scatter. Lothar counts seven.
"How many are they?" he asks the old woman but her answer is lost amid her wailing.
Only now, glancing down in irritation, does Lothar realise the woman bears some signs of wealth. Under the dirt and caked blood, her Italian tunic is decorated and on her fingers are the indentations of absent rings. He stares at her face and realises she is not an old woman at all. Under the bruises and filth, she might be the same age as himself. Otto Bierhoff kneels beside her.
"How many my petal? How many Lithuanians are there?"
The woman peers at him weakly, her breathing ragged.
"Ten?" he prompts? "more?"
"More" she whispers. "Some are foraging. They're killing every German they find"
Otto Bierhoff looks up at Lothar who remains impassive.
"What of the treaty?"
Lothar's face contorts in a brief spasm of disgust, but otherwise he does not respond. He has no desire to debate the subject. It is all God's Will. Behind him he has sixteen German men-at-arms, five of whom are mounted, all of whom are armoured and though they have all marched for most of the night, their faces remain determined. He draws his sword.
"Mount" he tells those with horses for they have marched on foot to spare their charges.
Otto Bierhoff takes his place with the foot soldiers.

"If some are foraging, now is the moment to attack" Lothar states.



Due to the brevity of preparation no map was drawn. These photographs of the table top at the beginning of the game illustrate the layout of the village.

Karlshof seen from the south,
showing the rear of the Yellow House and to the far right is the Smithy .

Karlshof seen from the north west, in the foreground is the farm



Player One: Palle
Lothar von Schöenberg (Ritterbruder of the Teutonic Order)
Otto Bierhoff (Teutonic Sergeant-at-Arms)
7 x Teutonic Infantry
4 x Teutonic Cavalry
4 x Teutonic Arbalestiers
6 x German civilians (held hostage by Vaclav and his men)

Player Two: Goeg
Vaclav of Stentzin (the fifth son of a minor Lithuanian noble)
8 x Lithuanian Infantry
4 x Lithuanian Arbalestiers

Player Three: Jan
Vladimir Rus (Russian Knight/adventurer of dubious reputation)
4 x Lithuanian Light Cavalry/Turcopoles
6 x Lithuanian Infantry



Lothar von Schöenberg and the Teutonic force start on the road at the western edge of the map, approaching Karlshof.

Having grabbed the remaining hostages, Vaclav and his men begin in position in Karlshof.

Foraging close by, Vladimir Rus and his men begin off table and come on from the north in 2d6 rounds.


Victory conditions

Either side gains and automatic victory by defeating two thirds of the opposing force. If neither side has won by the end of the game, the DM considers the situation from a role playing perspective.


Write up

This game was played on Thursday 4th. February. 2010.

Having learned of the nearby foragers, Lothar and his men wasted no time and marched on the village directly. The Teutonic infantry took the road whilst Lothar and his cavalry swung around to the south to attack the rear of the Yellow House. Vaclav's archers watched this approach and waited until the Teutons were in range before opening fire from the upper windows of the Smithy, killing the first Teuton. The Lithuanians were taken some what by surprise however when Lothar backed his war horse to the rear door of the Yellow House and proceeded to kick it open. The German civilian within the building used the meleé to escape but Lothar declined to enter the house and having exchanged a few blows with the Lithuanians within, remounted his steed.

As Lothar was engaging the Lithuanians in the Yellow House, the Teutonic Infantry were successfully exchanging fire with the Lithuanians in the Smithy as the marched along the main road. They failed to notice that as they moved along the road, there was movement in the tree's to the north of the farm. Vladimir the Rus and his men were sneaking into position. Vladimir sent his Light Horse racing around the west of the village to take the Teutons from behind whilst he tried to distract the Germans attention by prancing back and forth on the northern road. A Teutonic Arbalestier fell, shot in the back by the Light Horse and the rest took cover. For a while there seemed to be a dead lock, but then the two Lithuanian Infantrymen in the Yellow House decided to rush out and engage Lothar von Schöenberg who was lurking. Two of the Light Horse also moved into position to take pot shots at the Teutonic Knight but he shrugged off their arrows with disdain.

The hostages were all trying to escape and at this point the two female civilians, released from the Barn by the Teutonic Infantry fled the table top. The Turcopoles took a shot at them but God was against this act of barbarity and the women survived. Lothar put the first of his harassers to death, but the second managed to survive by dodging about.

Otto and his Infantry became aware of some of Vladimir's Infantry trying to sneak up on them through the Farm courtyard and they opened fire on them. Vladimir realised that his plan of taunting the Germans to distract them from his pincer attack was thwarted so he mustered his force in the Farm courtyard and engaged the Germans with return fire. The Lithuanians lurking in the Smithy remained in hiding though the Germans had caught on to their presence. Some Germans tried to bash the Smithy doors in, but failed. Inside, Gerd Möller saw his chance and made a break for it. He ran out into the enclosure behind the smithy and climbed the fence. Despite his age, fear lent him wings and he departed the table unmolested.

In the meanwhile the Lithuanians had moved into the main road and Vladimir caught Otto in the small alley between the Yellow House and the Barn, quickly knocking him senseless. Seeing the Lithuanians gathering in the centre of the village provoked the Teutons into a counter strike and the two sides clashed in the main road outside the Yellow House. Lothar chased after Vladimir and caught him in the alley. The fight was brief and Vladimir was sent crashing to the ground where he immediately feigned death.

Vaclav and his men burst from the Smithy only to find themselves out numbered and in dire straits. Vaclav fled, but not before he suffered minor injuries.

Neither side defeated two thirds of the other. Palle won by virtue of Lothar having defeated Vladimir and the Teutons finding Gerd Möller.



Lothar's men gathered the civilians (all of whom survived) together, and looted the Lithuanians (including Vladimir's rather expensive horse). Most of the village had already been pillaged by the Lithuanians but there was still enough to fill a wagon; which they did. Lothar was worried however, because the civilians told of other Lithuanians roaming the nearby countryside, and he realised the longer he stayed in Karlshof the more likely he would be attacked by other Lithuanians. He quickly gave orders to evacuate the village the small convoy headed west for the river Neman.

Sometime around dusk, as the Germans approach the river, a solitary figure steps out into the road before them.
"Halt!" the man shouts in German. "Halt in the name of Ulrich von Kunitz!" be continued.

1 comment:

  1. Outnumbered, Lothar chose to pursue a cautious and conservative plan; not risking his mobile hitting power, but instead waiting in a bottleneck for his enemies to expose themselved for him to gang up on exposed elements and create local superiority. He was not too happy that Otto went down, but happy that the core of the enemy force was crushed so convincingly.

    Thanks for the fun - I hope Goeg enjoyed himself despite the new system.