"Dead Bird's Don't Lie"
A Flintloque Scenario by Tony Harwood
Continuing the tradition of bringing you something a little spooky on All Hallow's Eve Tony Harwood brings us a horrific tale featuring Dwarves, gold and a malevolent Undead scarecrow....
As the wars in Northern Catalucia ground on, more and more satellite players joined the fight, huge Ogres, Ostarian dog soldiers, hardy Halflings plus some of the many petty Dwarf states found themselves fighting side-by-side or against old allies or blood-sworn enemies. This confused state of affairs had many groups questioning their loyalties and desertion was rife.
In this Halloween Special I thought I would relate the story of one such group.
In late summer, just as the last of the crops were being harvested, a small group of eight Confederation Dwarves led by a stocky and un-reliable character by the name of Otto had decided that enough was enough. The final straw came not because of a horrific battle or poor leadership, rather it was temptation. In this case a temptation that many Dwarves have succumbed to.
This group of battle-weary Dwarves encountered a smartly decorated four-wheeled coach stuck in a deep ditch, upon examination it was obvious that the inhabitants had vacated the crippled vehicle in a hurry and either run or taken some spare horses to make their escape. Various footprints identified either Ferach Elves or Dark Elf Guerrillas in hot pursuit of the stricken occupants. The Dwarves were getting ready to move on, when one of the group sensed the presence of Gold, (Dwarves are good at this) and after searched the interior found a large bag of gold coins.
After much discussion it was unanimously agreed that they would desert, leave the army, head back home and distribute the lucky find between them, all the better to secure a comfortable retirement. Actually the conversation went something like; “Bugger this for a game of soldiers we’re Off-sky.....”
All well and good, but as any Dwarf will tell you gold is not always the answer. It is usually the question, but not always the answer.
Two days later as the small group sneaked North-East and back home, they came across a run-down farm, actually quite a large and impressive run-down farm with a huge farmhouse and various barns scattered around un-kept fields. However it was obvious that something was very wrong; the crops in the field were not harvested and had started to go rotten, the air was heavy with the stench of death - dead birds were scattered across the fields and in the centre of the largest corn field stood a solemn scarecrow nailed to a make-do wooden cross. With night quickly coming the group of tired Dwarves decided that this was an OK place to both bivouac and divvy up the gold into equal shares, so they ignored their superstitious worries and agreed to have a night’s sleep in some luxury (well at least under cover) before continuing their journey home.
After setting the fire and cooking what meat and vegetables they had scavenged they set about getting ready for sleep. A sentry was posted on the front porch and the seven remaining dwarves were soon snoring away dreaming of the many ways to spend their newly-found wealth.
At the stroke of Midnight the sentries’ gun was heard to go off and as trained soldiers will do they were very quickly up and armed, moving through the farmhouse to the front porch and keeping a very close lookout for anything untoward. It wasn’t long before years of training took over and Otto was issuing orders to the Dwarves under his command to take up vantage points at different parts of the farm, all searching the pitch black night for any sign of movement or a clue as to what had happened. All-in-all it took nearly an hour before order was re-established, not helped by some of the younger (and less well trained) Dwarves firing their muskets at shadows, or as they said – ‘evil looking black monsters who starred back at them with fire in their eyes!”
Otto ordered all the dwarves to fall back to the porch and by lamp-light they tried to piece together what had happened. Firstly there was no sign of the sentry, nothing but his spent musket lying on the wooden porch floor. There was no sound, no chirping of insects, no whistling of the wind, no creaking of old wood, just eerie silence and the silence was starting to spook the remaining Dwarves.
Otto ordered a search of the farmhouse and by dim lamplight the Dwarves moved through the building in twos and threes (as no dwarf was now willing to search or be alone.) Various curses and shrieks were heard until Otto uttered a fearful and enraged howl. The bag of gold that he has hidden in his room was missing. Uproar ensued and accusations of thief and crook were both yelled and rebuked. It didn’t help that tiredness and fear were now instilled in each of the remaining Dwarves in equal measure.
The arguments went on for some time but in every case tiredness took over and one-by-one the group fell asleep – even the sentry.
2.00am - another musket was fired.
Once again more uproar and once again a missing dwarf, in this case the sleeping sentry – again, all that was left was his fired musket. Another search and nervous conversations heightened the unease. This time the group sat in the farmhouse kitchen both watching and questioning what had gone before. Sleep took longer, but it did come.
4.00am – just as the cold and darkness of the Algarvy night was at its deepest the Dwarves were awoken by the screeching of one of the party as his body was pulled through the kitchen door, kicking and bucking. It took some time to react and then to realise it but the group of eight stalwart Dwarves was now down to The Fearful Five.
Needless to say, no one slept.
6.00am and just as the sun should have been rising, a thick, dark mist settled on the cursed farm. With no one Dwarf willing to be separated from another the five Dwarves (now tired, hungry and frightened) decided to search the farm and out buildings. They found no sign of the missing dwarves, no sign of the missing gold but did confirmed that the scarecrow in the nearby field was in fact a crucified Dark Elf, horribly hacked, his eyes and mouth sewn shut and then nailed to the cross. Pinned to his chest was a piece of hastily written text – but before anyone could read it the dark shape of a deformed creatures lunged from the decaying hay field and grabbed yet another Dwarf. This time the Dwarf was saved as the trigger-happy and terrified dwarves who shot the creature with three well aimed shots. As the Dwarves approached the creature they realised it was the first sentry, and turning him over they were appalled to see that he too had his eyes and mouth sealed up. Otto cut the threads that were sown across the mouth and in hoarse guttural gulps the dying Dwarf related this story.
Many years ago this farm was owned by a proud and long-lived Dark-Elf, who, when his wife died from accursed sickness had turned to the dark arts of necromancy to first kill his own family and then his slaves in the hope that these evil sacrifice would bring her back to him. Obviously it didn’t work but it had released a foul and even more depraved creature that possessed the land owner, turning him into the most hated of elves who terrorised the local inhabitants and killed many in its attempts to control the wider area. Eventually after many attempts the local townspeople killed it and as a warning to others who attempt to raise the dead they had sewn his eyes and mouth up and nailed him to the cross that now stood in front of them. The piece of hastily written parchment warned others of entering the fields or farm.
With his last breath the shot Dwarf beseeched the remaining comrades to leave and never return. This should have been enough to have sent the remaining five dwarves hundreds of miles away, never looking back, but as we all know – Gold has a very strange effect of Dwarves and they decided to re-enter the farmhouse and search for the missing gold.
As you good reader will know – Gold has a very profound effect of Dwarves.
What follows is a skirmish between the five musket armed Dwarves and some very nasty undead.
4 foot x 4 foot table with a farmhouse situated in the centre of the table, add some smaller buildings and stone walls as requires. Around this there should be numerous fields and in one the crucified Dark Elf should be placed.
Both movement and firing ranges should be reduced because of the heavy mist.
Six chits should be scattered round the table – one is the bag of gold – the others are false leads.
5 very jittery and sleep deprived Dwarves. Their aim is to find the missing gold and retreat off the table just as fast as their legs can carry them. (Try reducing the moral factor after any additional Dwarf is killed).
Each Dwarf is armed with a Dwarven Musket Mk II and at least one other hand weapon each. They should have enough ammunition to last the game, but you may want to allocate a limited number of shots to each Dwarf.
Now this is tricky as the true number of undead should not be unknown to the Dwarves. The farmer’s wife, the farmer’s family, the farm workers and even the villagers – even the Scarecrow (farmer or land owner) who will have additional powers – Demon or Necromancer! – Start with five plus the scarecrow, then dice at the beginning of each turn – a score of 4 or 5 on a D6 will bring two additional undead from the corn fields (within 6inches of the nearest Dwarf) and a roll of 6 on the D6 will bring five shambling hulks in to the fight.
These creatures will not retreat and have no morale stats – they will fight to the death.
Treat these creatures as undead with no hand weapons but able to tear the dwarves apart with their bare hands. As the Dwarf is killed it becomes another one of the undead, so new reinforcements each time a Dwarf if killed (or captured), but killed will be much more welcoming – trust me.
The Scarecrow (or Evil Undead Creature) should get stronger every time a Dwarf is killed.
Dwarf Force – retrieve the gold and leave the board by the nearest edge. Leaving the table with your life should also be seen as a minor victory. 5 points if you get the gold off the table and 1 point for every Dwarf who survives the encounter.
Undead Force – Kill, Kill, Kill. You get the picture.
2 points for every Dwarf killed
This short scenario was inspired by a film called Dead Birds, a horror film set during the American Civil War. It should be played twice each side swopping after the first game to see who has the highest points value at the end of the two games.
This article was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on All Hallow's Eve, the 31st October, 2016.
You can read all Tony's previous articles by clicking on his maroon tag just below and to the left.