"Above and Beyond the Call of Dutiful Harvest"
A Panzerfäuste Scenario by Costin Becheanu
Mushrooms painted by Anthony Evans
The Scarlet Sages, a specially assembled team of Orcs chosen by Chûrg-ill himself, is sent on a dangerous mission in the Gnomish lands to investigate reports that the farmers there may have made a break through that could change the course of the war. The Dwarvish High Command has also dispatched a unit to investigate. Only one side can leave with the secret of the mutated Mushrooms...
Strange how near-adjacent points of view can vary so wildly from one another...
On one hand we have a peaceful swath of land, sheltered from strong winds by extensive forests on all sides, a small corridor to the South-West being the only entirely open route into the small haven.
A simple Gnomish family of proud bloodline holds sway over the area, simple farmers that lead their lives peacefully and hoping to escape the long reach of the War.
On the other hand, things had changed lately... it was believed that said farmers went a bit off the tilled patch and started employing less traditional ways of growing their crops.
News of this derailment had reached Chûrg-Ill and a scouting mission had already been dispatched. Its delegated troops had just been deployed within walking distance of the farm Paras.
The pride of Chûrg-Ill’s War effort. Leading them, Captain Bogglez-Wûrf himself, the very godfather of the corps. His hand-picked squad for this maiden endeavour, made up of only the best and bravest that had come out of prototype-testing and training, was just regrouping after landing, packing away their brollies and proceeding towards their objective.
The Scarlet Sages they’d been dubbed. Some ten months of grueling training experiences, preceded by more months of actual combat involvement, had made them some of the most fit and savvy troops when it came to tackling even the worst of situations. The Scarlet bit was just to emphasize the colour they wore on their berets, to honour those that, in their sacrifice, had made the Paras a reality.
“Bit rougher on the landing than I’d hoped” Corporal Gruz put in while picking some leaves and bits of bark off his kit. “Too many blasted trees if you ask me...”
“Maybe we can get a campfire going once we’re done here. Clear the air a bit so to speak...” Sergeant Nokk snickered.
“Pipe down, Bigfoot. Get a move on, men!” Wûrf was the first one to get ready.
Bigfoot, as Nokk was affectionately called due to his unnaturally large right set of toes, soon followed suit. There were 12 of them altogether, Wûrf, Nokk and Gruz leading the rest.
Night had fallen proper by the time they had made it within earshot of the farm. And what shot past their ears was certainly unexpected...
“Is that... Are those...” Gruz started, taken aback.
“Damned beardies... They’re not supposed to have gotten this far West!” Bigfoot hissed, looking to the captain for a course of action. A murmur started amongst the 11 at Wûrf ’s back.
“Steady, lads, nothing’s changed. This is still just a scouting op.”
He started creeping forwards under cover of darkness, smirking back at the squad: “On the other hand, no one said anything about NOT engaging hostiles now did they?” Grinning from ear to ear, Bigfoot and the rest of the Sages were hot on his heels.
Many unfounded rumours and stories have sprung across The Land since the beginning of The War. Some have been proven true, others unraveled, merely hearsay and exaggeration.
It has come to the attention of the Branzhûm leadership that several Gnome farms as of yet untouched by conflict have been searching for means to keep the reverberations of war far from their idyllic farmland-based existence.
While reports differ wildly from one another, describing anything from giant ravenous watermelons to seed-spitting sunflowers, one thing is for certain: a handful of Gnome farmers have somehow bent the plants themselves to their will, weaponising them in a way and causing a very dangerous domino effect that is somehow spreading and damaging more and more plantlife.
Warlord Chûrg-Ill has put together an elite strike team to head deep into the heart of this issue and learn exactly what it is and how it can be dealt with.
This is their story.
The scenario at hand is but the first of a larger skirmish mission, following a brave squad of Paras under the moniker Scarlet Sages in the first mission of this newly assembled Orc force.
Every scenario links into the next depending upon the Paras' win or loss, offering radically different results and a branching overall experience that can be replayed to multiple endings. It is also the start of an even larger campaign (whose name is as of yet undecided) that I endeavour to build over the following year.
Now on to the fun bits...
The two forces (Dwarves and Orcs) approach the farm from two opposing corners of the table, every model entering the battlefield within 12 cm of their respective corner.
The surrounding area (read edges of the table) should be dominated by heavily wooded areas. These should skirt around the edges and not take up very much space as the area immediate to the farmhouse itself will be filled with crops of the kind and quantity that you desire – think wheat, corn, cabbages, take your pick (found some overgrown pumpkins the size of Dwarves I'm using at the moment).
At the very center of it all lies the main objective of the map: the farmhouse itself. The Gnomes are grouped around the house, numbering 6 – the farmer, his three sons and two helpers.
You could also place another barn or two or a small cottage around the house, but make sure to spread them out enough so that the battle over the objective doesn't devolve into a cover-to-cover firefight of attrition.
The woods are considered moderate cover (-3), the crops cause a 25% decrease in movement when going through them.
Now for the piece de resistance!
Pepper the crop areas with mutated mushroom clusters.
I recommend at least 8-10 of these, half of them considered small, half large.
The small clusters are made up of 3 stalks, the large of 4 or 5, up to you to decide.
Either mark this with dice, counters, or relevant mushroom models you may have handy. Dice or counters will come in handy to mark whichever stalks are no more.
Mushrooms explode when hit.
This can happen either directly, or by mistake.
Whenever you shoot at a target that is either within 1 cm of or directly behind (read: LoS to target drawn through) a mushroom stalk and miss, you need to make a Guts roll to see if you hit the stalk instead.
Success: stalk bursts
Critical Success: stalk explodes, additional stalk explodes, roll again (continue to roll if you get a Critical Success again, only one additional stalk bursts per Critical Success – unlike the initial explosion of 2 stalks).
Failure: miss (no gun jam roll) Critical Failure: miss (no gun jam roll)
The Mushrooms have powerful hallucinogenic effects upon those that imbibe them or their spores. The affected lose control over reality and their grasp over the concepts of friend and foe.
The stalks burst in an initial 12 cm blast for small clusters and 15 cm for large ones. Any additional stalks that burst due to Critical Successes increase the radius by 5 cm each.
If a target is within the radius of an exploding mushroom, they need to pass a Guts test. Should they fail (either regularly or critically) they lose 1 Guts and make a normal attack against the closest friendly target to them (without an additional Guts roll). If no friendly target is in view, the affected lose the 1 Guts and move as much as needed in order to get Line of Sight to one instead of making an attack.
The affected lose their turn if they haven't acted yet and can attempt to snap out of the effect on the following turn. Should they succeed in doing so, they are limited to just one action.
On a failure, they attack the closest friendly target or move towards the closest, as before.
The Gnome Farmers
The Gnomes will assault (or fire at) any figure that comes within 20 cm of the farmhouse or simply within their weapons’ effective range. They will always engage the closest target.
Until such a thing happens, they will simply take cover in and around the main building itself, deployed within 5cm of it according to specifications.
They are the family la Feve and their 3 helpers who are well past their prime, detailed below.
Ranuille la Feve (Guts of 9, Gnome Sub-Machine Gun, deployed outside)
The elder of the family, now owner of the generations-old farm, would have done anything and everything to keep it and his sons away from conflict. Never before had the la Feve domain been involved in a major conflict and Ranuille would have preferred to keep it that way.
Unfortunately sometimes conflict won't keep away from you, and it's times like these that even a simple farmer or six can turn into bona fide, corn-cold killers.
Upon realising that, eventually, they would all be put face to face with the wrong end of a gun barrel, he decided drastic measures were needed. His sons knew nothing of armed warfare and the others... Well... He was unsure they even knew what day of the week it was most of the time.
It started slow, one of the reasons being that Ranuille himself had little to no knowledge regarding war, much less any actual experience within one. Getting his hands on weaponry was even harder than he had imagined, but the three farmhands proved an invaluable asset in this.
Unfortunately, getting guns lies in an entirey different zip code as opposed to firing guns effectively...
When it became obvious that the uphill battle started going downhill fast, he all but gave up. Rummaging through the farmhouse attic for his father's journal, he came across a strange leather pouch that he'd never seen before. Soft, cold to the touch, and containing a handful of strange, deformed seeds, it was this pouch that would turn everything around.
Ranuille found a very small script, near-unreadable entry, crammed into the corner of the last page of his father's journal, stating that a strange array of plants had, at one point, grown on the swath of land upon which the farm now rested. Generations back, all of these plants had been studied by the la Feve elders who had discovered some strange properties that only the mushrooms had. They managed to distill the essence within these mushrooms, something that caused people to go near-insane, and used it to change the effects whenever the La Feve imbibed them.
Dumbstruck, Ranuille proceeded to plant all of the seeds, and while the mushrooms were slow to sprout and not all of them did, once they were large enough, he put the journal entry to the test. What he found out astonished him...
They were, indeed, immune to whatever negative effects the mushrooms might have usually caused. Instead, they felt bolstered, empowered by them! Not only that, but these effects were also true for the Navet, Bettrave and Raifort, meaning that suddenly protecting the farm from oncoming forces seemed like a slightly less far-fetched task...
Poivron la Feve (Guts 9, Gnome Rifle, deployed outside)
Elder son of Ranuille, the pumpkin of his father’s eye and heir to the la Feve estate, he was quick to support his father in the less traditional agricultural approach. This was no different from any other endeavour that Ranuille might have decided upon, as Poivron had never questioned his old man in the slightest.
They are a duo of exquisite chemistry and, as post-mushroom training had showed, they managed to use this to their advantage when it came to a combat situation.
If Poivron and Ranuille are within 7 cm of each other, they both gain a +1 bonus to Guts whenever attempting to fire at a target.
Truff la Feve (Guts 8, Light Machine Gun, deployed inside)
A passionate seeker of strange roots and other earth-related foodstuffs, Truff is a bit on the weird side (whatever weird means for a La Feve) and has never really seen eye-to-eye with Poivron and Ranuille.
A rather nasty fight broke out when the youngster learned what his father had planned with the seeds and vehemently opposed his initiative.
Unfortunately, his rather frail frame and difficulty to make himself heard (an accident during childhood had rendered him almost mute) meant that there was little he could do to make himself seem imposing.
He has been relegated to the farmhouse ever since with nothing but a rusty old LMG for company.
Truff cannot leave the farmhouse and will simply move from window to window to fire at the closest visible enemy target each turn.
Navet, Bettrave, and Raifort (Guts 10, Close Combat Weapons, x5 Grenades each, outside)
What is there to say about this motley band of boneheads...
They’re like that one cousin in every family that no one really wants to be around, but gets called upon whenver you need something moved on account of his size. Times three.
They are big. Huge even - by gnome standards - and are usually responsible for performing the brunt of the work around the farmhouse. The la Feves have been employing them and their families for centuries for farm work.
No one really knows what sort of family ties bind them to each other or to their employers, but at least the mushrooms have worked wonders on them. They are solely responsible for sabotaging a gnome supply truck that was passing through nearby and stealing the weapons and ammo that the la Feves now have at their disposal.
Three Gnomes carrying 4 crates of ammunition, 1 of grenades an LMG, a rifle and a sub-machine gun must truly have been a sight to behold... Moreso since the attack was carried out with pitchforks and scythes as close combat utensils.
These three will keep lobbing grenades at targets that come within 20 cm of the farmhouse until they run out. After this, or if targets get within 10 cm of theim, they will charge in close combat.
Gnome AI Rules
All Gnomes function as follows:
After the turns of the Orcs and Dwarfes have passed, the Gnome turn takes place. Ranuille and Poivron act first (and second respectively).
Navet, Bettrave and Raifort act subsequently. Truff is the last one to act.
The Gnomes must be deployed as evenly as possible around the farmhouse so as to cover all sides of it in case of encroaching enemies.
Ranuille and Poivron are grouped within 7 cm of each other. Truff remains inside the farmhouse at all times.
The closest enemy to each gnome figure is considered their target. If there is a target within effective range, the Gnomes fire upon it.
If there is a target within 20 cm of the farmhouse, the gnomes fire upon it.
If a target approaches the farmhouse, is less than 20 cm away from it, but no Gnome has LoS to it, they will not consider it a threat and target the next eligible target instead.
If there is a target within long range of their weapons and within 20 cm of the farmhouse, the gnomes try to maneuver as to gain effective range while also maintaining cover and fire upon it.
The Scarlet Sages
Captain Bogglez-Wûrf. Guts 12 (base, Elite, Vet), SMG, Pistol
There is not much to say that hasn’t been said already about the Captain. He is regarded as a hero, a mentor, a brother, a friend and even a fatherly figure to some.
He has garnered the respect and awe of an entire army with many a valorous feat and continues to give his all fighting at the fore and leading by example.
And Chûrg-Ill takes advantage of his urge to fight, making an example out of him every chance he gets since the Paratroopers were formed. Some fear that the Captain might collapse physically or worse, get seriously injured, sooner rather than later, but for now, he’s going as strong as ever and sowing fear into opposing forces that learn about his leading a charge.
Lieutenant Nokk “Bigfoot” Urûn. Guts 10 (base, Vet), Drainpipe, Pistol
A wild and bewildering presence on the battlefield, both physically as well as through his actions and his very equipment, Bigfoot has made a name for himself by single-handedly holding off a dwarf Sturmptruppen section at bay after his retreating convoy was ambushed and all other men in his squad were knocked out by a well-aimed shell.
This feat has left him scarred by half a dozen bullets across his arms and chest as well as slashed across his left cheek and temple by some projectile flak when the shell came down. As such, his grin is quite a terrible sight to behold. More so as he tends to grin a lot, about 101% of the time spent with a weapon in his hands.
He could have long since promoted to higher ranks, but refused to do so as being involved first-hand in combat is something that he revels in. Not being a great fan of overly complex responsibilities has also held him back a chevron or two.
When Wûrf started recruiting for his Para core, he was one of the first to volunteer and one of the very few to survive the first – highly unsuccessful – rounds of training after suffering grievous wounds to his lower back and legs. Alongside Gruz, he is the single most trusted companion that the Captain has.
Whenever Nokk kills an opposing figure, all friendly figures within 5 cm of the target lose an action on their next turn in addition to any weapon-typre-related penalties that may apply to Guts.
Corporal Gruz-Agrûm. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), SMG, Pistol
The 5 o’clock to Wûrf’s cuppa, Gruz is always at the Captain’s side, whether it’s training or action, he was an invaluable asset over the past months in the shaping of the Para corp and helping Wûrf in the recruitment process. He is one of the Captain’s oldest acquaintances and best friends, ever since their training days, but lacks Wûrf’s combat prowess.
Although he hasn’t risen to such heights as other cadets that he has trained alongside, he has a keen mind for tactics and great situational awareness, something that has saved countless lives time and time again. As such, he is one of the Paratrooper Corp’s most valuable assets and a small, vital cog in the great orc war machine.
Whenever Wûrf takes a Movement action, Gruz has the option of making a Guts roll to make a Movement action as well, at half Wûrf ’s speed. Failing the roll negates this altogether, but Critical Failures do not impact his Guts score.
Sergeant Dirne “Choppe” Warrah (Bones). Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
While his exploits before joining Bogglez and his lot are not neglijible, Dirn’s shine wasn’t really at full force until he started bringing back Paras-in-training from the brink of death.
His skill with a cleaver is unmatched, but he also dabbles in alternative ways of getting people back on their feet. His recently published handbook “Smoke your way to full health” is being regarded as a miracle of modern medicine, turning the army’s cigarette addiction into a vital first-aid element employed successfully on thousands of wounded soldiers. And don’t even get him started on his next volume, “Cigars for cars”. A petrol- head at heart, this one...
Pvt. Mazûr-Bolm (Buzzhead). Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
Communications are an important logistic bit that keeps things from unraveling in the thick of a battle when
things turn south and advice from HQ is needed. And Mazûr knew that he wanted to be the one that people turned to in just such a moment.
Not only is he the resident Buzzhead for the Sages, but he’s one hell of a tough fighter in his own right. He’s been known to use the very buzzer itself on enemies if he found himself in a tight spot and out of bullets. Many a beardies have become intimately acquainted with the wrong end of a buzzer antenna courtesy of Mazûr...
Bolm gets both the Close Combat Weapon modifier as well as the Target Surprised modifier for a total of +4 to his Guts in Close Combat.
Pvt. Womm Wilkers. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
Wilkers has had its ups and downs since being recruited. But he had no idea how many ups and downs he was going to come across after becoming a Para... luckily he pulled through alright and managed to become one of the most receptive and well-performing individuals over training.
His most distinguishing trait is his ability to overcome disaster and motivate himself back from the brink of utter failure. He has proven this time and time again over the past few months on a constant basis.
This put him on Wûrf’s shortlist once recruitment for the Sages began, and got him into the Sages in the end as well.
Like all the others, he has just had his first couplet of action “up-and-down” so he’s a bit terrified, not of the issue itself, but of letting his superiors down.
Once per combat, after failing a Guts roll, Womm may immediately attempt another roll and MUST use the second roll as a result instead.
Once per combat, Womm may treat a Critical Failure as a Regular Failure.
Pvt. Tarren Krir. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
Overcoming his fear of war and conflict in general, Krir joined the Paras to replace his brother, one of the victims of the initial training waves. Needless to say, it was very difficult for him. Not only did he have to look past his own fears, but also have the guts to undergo the same trials that had taken his brother away.
His first feeling when he learned of his disappearance was anger, a rage that he could barely contain. He would’ve switched places if he could, but since it was too late for that, he would instead cause as much damage to those responsible for starting the war as he possibly could.
Krir has a +1 bonus to Guts when in Close Combat with a dwarf adversary.
Pvt. Diarmad Makkanne. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol, Sword
Saying that the paras were a life-saver for pvt. Konne is an understatement seeing as they literally saved his life during his first ever operation as a highlander.
Konne’s squad was facing a vastly superior dwarf Straftruppen force rumored to have been led by the dreaded Ansgar himself. The highlanders, insane in their bravery as they were, eventually started falling back from the oncoming storm. Unfortunately, Ansgar had sent the strategic reserve to cut off such a retreat – a bold, some might stay stupid move, implausible even since Ansgar wasn’t an officer, let alone in command of proceedings at a time. But nonetheless a move that paid off.
An entire highlander regiment was lost that day and Konne would have succumbed to his wounds should a handful of Paras not have been carried off their landing zone by strong winds and right next to the scene of the carnage, now known as the Kladen Massacre.
Konne has been making up for this ever since, pledging himself to the Paratrooper corps as soon as his wounds permitted it. He is one fierce adversary and will push himself over the harshest of trials in order to keep anything like the Massacre from ever taking place again.
When attempting a Guts roll as a result of a Section Leader being killed or having their Guts reduced to less than 2, Makkanne is considered to have rolled a Critical Success.
Pvt. Zaul Sayren. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
Hailing from parts distant and unknown, Zaul has been raised by close acquaintances of Churg-ill himself after being orphaned. He was always bound for a military career since childhood.
Little did he know that his baptism of fire would be via the Sages’ first ever operation. Gaining his place in the elite squad through his own talents and not who he knows, and intends to remain here on account of merit alone. And his greatest merit is that of being very good when it comes to taking care of his weapons.
Whenever Zaul’s weapon explodes, it can never kill Zaul (i.e. treat a roll of 6 or higher as a 5 on the weapon jam table instead).
Additionally, unjamming his weapon doesn’t use up an action for Zaul (i.e. he doesn’t lose an action on the turn he unjams his weapon).
Pvt. Kint-Gono. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
Silent and recluse, Kint undergoes a wondrous transformation when in a combat situation, rivaling even Bigfoot for sheer noise output and larger-than-life-ness. Several friends have taken to calling him “Gnash” as the grinding of his teeth usually announces that he’s about to unleash himself upon the enemy.
This does render him mostly useless in a stealth situation, but damn if he ain’t a good soldier to have by when the going gets tough. And tough going is where Kint shows his true colours... And when you can hear an orc howling louder than a grenade explosion, you know you’ve got a tough SOB by your side.
Kint only suffers a -1 penalty to Guts when under the effects of Suppression.
Pvt. Doreden Grunk. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), Rifle, Pistol
Some time ago, in a battle he can’t seem to pinpoint, Grunk lost something very dear to him. He’s never told anyone what it is, but all of his closest brothers in arms know that he’s on a personal quest that’s been driving him even before joining the Paras.
It’s true that he took a big blow to the side of the head some months back, but most are sure he’s actually looking for something and hasn’t simply lost his marbles.
While this teeny, tiny aspect of his personality turns him into a loose cannon at times, he’s mostly pointing into the right direction, so Wûrf chose him for the pros rather than looking at the cons.
Roll 1d+2 at the beginning of the battle. The result is the turn on which Grunk gains a +2 bonus to Guts. On the subsequent turn, Grunk can only perform 1 action.
Pvt. Baral-Cerek. Guts 9 (base, Experienced), LMG, Pistol
A giant mass of muscle and sinew, Baral is without a doubt the largest orc in the Paras corp as it stands at the moment. Any weapon he wields looks like a toy in his hands... Which is probably why he never shoots anything smaller than a Light Machine Gun.
He’s become a master at the craft and has developed a special relationship with his death-sowing instrument of choice over his time in the War. Joining the Paras has allowed him to rain fire down on his enemies. Literally. And it is a thing of beauty to behold him in his burning ballet of bullets.
Baral gains an additional +1 bonus to Guts when firing his LMG at short or effective range, on top of the LMG bonus, i.e. short range bonus is +3 (short range, LMG, personal), effective range bonus is +2 (LMG, personal).
Opposing the Orcs is a squad of 10 grenadiers accompanied by a Scarfschutze team for a total of 12 figures. Their Guts values are alike to the Paras’ (12, 10, then 9 across the board) with the Scharfschutze both at 9, and the 12 and 10 figures wielding SMGs. The rest are armed with rifles. All of the figures benefit from grenades.
The Scarlet Sages are in the dark when it comes to the identity of these individuals, as this scenario will form a part of a linked series of missions and this will have a narrative reasoning behind it.
Therefore the names and ranks of the Dwarves are left to the imagination of each player.
Both the Orcs and the Dwarves have the training and ability to easily subdue the Gnomes and lay their hands on the journal. The only thing preventing that for each side is the opposing force trying to do exactly the same thing. Either side wins if they can rout or kill 8 of the opposing sides figures.
Let the dice roll and enjoy!
An Orcs in the Webbe Original! This scenario was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 1th December 2015 as part of it's 2015 Advent Calendar.