"Malik Widukinds’ Tale"
A Dresda Background Article
Dresda was Created by Mac Coxhead and Steve Blease*
Artwork by Pete Knifton
Ölrika von Viebriek's Doomgarde take on a unit of Goblins in this Dresda short story.
Malik Widukind smiled grimly to himself. Crouching in the long grass, halberd by his side, he watched the Goblin raiders argue amongst themselves over the spoils of their most recent massacre. Glancing to his left he signalled to the rest of his fellow mercenaries, silently indicating the number and position of the foes they were about to attack.
Fifty feet away from Widukind, Ölrika von Viebriek acknowledged the signals, and silently ordered two of her men to circle around the .left of the unsuspecting Un-men, and two more to the right. Checking the position of the enemy once more she crawled carefully over to where Widukind lay. As the two of them peered through the windswept grass, a pair of Goblins began to exchange blows over what Widukind surmised to be a woman's dress, though now so torn and bloodied it was hard to tell. Watching in silence as the brawl became more violent, the Plainsman thought back over the last few months.
Hunting Orc and Goblin raiders for the Middlelands Princes was indeed far removed from his nomadic days on horseback, riding the distant steppes and fighting the savage Hobgoblins. But those days were long gone, ever since he'd had a 'misunderstanding' with his Headman, the Atan. Alright, perhaps his foray into the women's tents might have been a little rash, and he hadn't actually intended for the Atan's eldest daughter to get pregnant, but accidents did happen.
Even so, after a few bumps and many close scrapes he'd now landed on his feet thanks to a chance meeting with the Grafs’ widow, saving her from a Ratman ambush on the road to Dresda. Now here he was, a soldier of the feared Doomgarde, about to show the Un-men scum that the Humans of the Middle Kingdoms would no longer roll over and allow them to pillage these lands as part of their annual migration. A harsh bird-whistle, the call of an adult male Kruockabare, shook him from his reverie. It was the signal from the rest of his companions that they were in position. Gently lifting his halberd from the ground, he started to rise. Time to spill some blood...
Nilbog cursed his fellow Goblins. The stupid sods had taken to fighting over a poxy hu-man dress, but the cursed Doomgarde were in the vicinity. The thought of the feared mercenaries made him shudder and he started forward to kick some sense into his troops. He didn't want his head being taken as another trophy for the Middlelands Princes, and he didn't want his band messing about in the middle of a road when they should be putting leagues between them and their most recent kill. Hitting Tragzmit over the head, he turned to order his troops to get moving, but was interrupted by the sound of a Kruockabare whistle to his right.
Nilbog spun around, suddenly afraid - a Kruockabare, this far south, in the summer? Before he could react, something unpleasant flew through the air and landed at his feet. Tragzmit's head spewed black blood onto the dusty road. Looking up Nilbog saw death incarnate, resplendent in chain armour and grasping a bloodied halberd. Doomgarde! Around him chaos reigned as the Goblins fell into a panic. von Viebriek's men were tearing into the Un-men. Drawing his scimitar, Nilbog stared into the grim smile of the hu-man and lunged.
Widukind parried the thrust and sidestepped. As he'd intended, the Goblin was caught offbalance, and he smashed the pole of his halberd into its back as it stumbled past. For his part, Nilbog felt one, perhaps two ribs snap beneath the crushing blow, but still managed to roll and land on his feet, raising his shield to absorb the impact of the hu-man's follow-up.
“Damn, this Un-man is good!” mused Widukind as his blow was deflected by the shield. He pulled his halberd back, towards the Goblin's legs, but it was too quick, jumping over the blade of the weapon.
“Damn, this hu-man is good” thought Nilbog, quickly stabbing at his opponent before flicking his scimitar back across the Doomgarde's left. He was rewarded with the first blood as he caught the mercenary on the forearm a crimson slash which brought a wild grin to the Goblin's face. "Or is he? Maybe the Doomgarde’s reputation precedes them unjustly!" thought Nilbog, but his grin soon faded as he glanced once more into the hu-man's eyes. There was no sign of defeat, indeed, perhaps there was more determination than before.
Savagely, Nilbog launched himself at the Doomgarde, attempting to force the mercenary back. Widukind parried these blows and hammered the butt of his halberd into the Goblin's face, smashing its nose. Stepping forward he again swung the halberd, the blade catching the Goblin's attempted parry hard, and the scimitar's blade shattered. Widukind followed through with the blow and suddenly the halberd was cutting deep into Nilbog's swarthy neck, black blood spewing from the mortal wound.
As the Goblin's lifeless body crashed to the ground Widukind spun round, eyes already searching for another foe, but there were none. Around him stood only his fellow Doomgarde, and in the dust of the road lay the bodies of all ten Un-men. von Viebriek walked up to Widukind, and for once she was almost smiling...
"Looks like we'll get a good bounty on this lot, Malik. Seems we've put an end to Nilbog and his Backwoods Band at long last"...
Artwork by Pete Knifton
What is Dresda?
Dresda was the original sister game to the first edition of Flintloque, released way back in 1996. It used the fantasy range of miniatures available from Alternative Armies and brought with it an excellent and dynamic campaign system. It also shared the same central mechanics as its older sibling. This meant we we could run games that pitted fantasy armies against Blackpowder armed Orc redcoats and see the new order on Valon storm the castles of the old.
The game saw players managing bands of mercenaries, trailing the countryside looking for work and running up against other units with the same idea. Like Flintloque, scenario driven battles were a key element in its design, coupled with the roleplaying aspect of running your unit including equipping them with things found on the battlefield and paying them from a limited supply of Groats. It was more involved and offered a richer campaign framework than most wargames from that time. A few years later Games Workshop's Mordheim came out and the world was wowed by its innovative use of warbands and campaign tracking which Alternative Armies had actually been doing for few years already.
Dresda sadly went out-of-print never to be re-released and years later Alternative Armies went in a different direction releasing Darkstorme, offering a slightly different take on the pre-Blackpowder history of Valon using an original D6 based system.
Dresda remains a fantastic game and this Christmas Orcs in the Webbe is pleased as punch to bring it back to life once more, along with full notes on how to run it alongside your third edition games of Flintloque.
Keep the Flag Flying!
“Malik Widukinds’ Tale” was originally published in the Dresda Rulebook in 1996. It was first added to Orcs in the Webbe on the 15th February 2006.
However, it was absent for many years due to a prior regeneration of the website not transferring everything over correctly. This wrong has now been righted and it returned as the thirteenth entry in 2021's Advent Calendar as is, of course, part of Orcs in the Webbe's ongoing Flintloque Archive Project.
Any comments in maroon in the article above have been added by me either to provide additional information or clarity. I may also have made small changes to grammar and layout but have not marked these.
* The full acknowledgements for Dresda can be read here on Orcs in the Webbe.
** Loosely based on words I wrote when I released Dresda digitally on v4 of Orcs in the Webbe back in 2008.