Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Leviathan Stirs


Well its the dawn of a new year and I've decided to have another bash at the world of Aeroth. Sadly I think this blog has gone as far as it can so I've started a new one called TALES FROM AEROTH

Hopefully 2014 will herald the return of Leviathan within my own small hobby world!

All the best!

New Year, 214AD

High up in the Axeblade Mountains, Grimli, commander of the Boar Company looked out over the pass. The heavy snow had stopped shortly before midnight and the sky had become clear. As he looked on, waves of green and purple lights began to flicker across the velvety night in a ghostly dance. 

The lights lit the entire landscape, showing the black masses of the high mountains and painfully white snow in sharp relief. Legend had it that the northern lights were the Children of the Moon, dancing across the night sky but Grimli had no time for such fables. 

The vivid display was nothing but tides of wild magic rolling across the high atmosphere but almost despite himself, Grimli felt at peace for the first time in years. The blanket of snow deadend all noise and the dancing lights flickered and rolled with such beauty that even the gruffest of Dwarves could not help but feel a little bit of wonder at the celestial display.

Glancing over his shoulder, he could see the fortified bunkhouse that his Boar Company had sought shelter from the storm in. Even now the faint sounds of merriment and the lilt of pipes could be heard faintly as if some shade from before the world had died played, remembering happier times when the world was sane. 

The door to the bunkhouse slammed open and Grimli's second in command strode out and grunted as he saw his leader. Deftly shutting the door with his ironshod boot heel, Flint stomped through the snow towards his leader carrying a couple of frothing tankards of ale. 

"Bewitched by the Childrens Dance I see." noted the gruff Dwarf, handing over one tankard and quaffing mightily from the other before smacking his lips with satisfaction. 

"Aye, it makes me wonder if we will ever see an end to the war and settle down to doing something more useful'" replied Grimli, absently blowing the froth off his own ale before taking a deep swig. 

"Bah! Not much chance of that with the high country infested with Goblin braves after Dwarf scalps or those damned Blackblood scum down in the pass"

Glancing down from their perch, Grimli could faintly make out the glimmering of watch fires down at the mouth of the pass, a sure sign that Krull and his followers were still holding out, despite the cold. Word had come through that it was so bad down there the Orcs had turned upon one another for food and that something terrible now resided in the bloodsoaked camp.

Absently Grimli spat off the edge of the cliff in the general direction of the Orc winter encampment. 

"Come spring when the pass clears, we are going to sweep down and give that cursed Orc a damn good thrashing." Grimli grunted. "With our new Golems and tanks, the elders have hopes we will drive the scum right back down the Old Road and even retake the Kragh."

"Hmm, mayhaps they're right" ruminated Flint, taking another drink. "The new Golems look properly fierce and if they work as well as the Technomancer Guilders promise, we should be in for quite a show!"

"If! If promises were gold, I'd be a wealthy guildmaster, not freezing my backside out on a mountain!" Grumbled Grimli. "No matter what they promise, it's going to come down to Dwarven courage and the strength of our axes that will see off that rabble!" 

"By my Bearded Grandmother, this cold is making me maudlin! Next thing I will be weeping into my beard like a beardling!" With that the Dwarven leader tipped the rest of his ale down his throat and belched with satisfaction. "Tomorrow morning, set the scouts out and lets see if we can find ourselves some Goblins to hunt!"

"Now thats more like it!" Flint agreed, tugging thoughtfully on his beard. "But in the meantime, lets go back indoors and get some more Ale, I'm fresh out" Tipping his empty tankard upside down to prove his point, Grimli's second in command turned back to the blockhouse and sparing one last glance out over the pass, Grimli followed.

"Some day all the mountains will be safe and our kin will live in peace, chief but until then its up to us hard cases to deal with those who think otherwise!"

With that he slammed open the door of the blockhouse and entered, bellowing for Ale. Grimli smiled, perhaps it was the will of the Ancestors that he fight and die defending his mountains but so be it. He would do his Oathsworn duty or die trying.

High above the lights continued their ghostly display, impervious to the thoughts of those far below even as the faint sound of a Dwarven drinking song began to lilt across the winter landscape.

The Orcish Horde

The Orcs are a race reviled and exiled for their brutal and warlike ways, over a millennia before the Death, the Elven Dragonlords cursed them and drove them from the West, through the Axebite pass and into the Endless Plains.

The Axebite River

The Elven lords had thought that the brutal land of rolling steppe, turgid rivers and stinking marshes would weaken and finish the blackblooded Orcs. During their first years of exile, many thousands of Orcs did indeed die of exposure, disease or the predations of the great and terrible beasts that inhabited the plains.

The Endless Plains

Orcish society broke down into warbands who fought amongst each other over land, mounts and supplies, devouring destroying each other and perhaps the Elven plan would have worked had not one of these bands chanced upon the ancient ruins of Koth.

Once Koth was the holy city of the long vanished Serpentmen but it had been abandoned for untold ages since the rising empire of the Elves had sacked it in the Age of Legends. Now it was not much more than a ruin, haunted by half forgotten ghosts but the arrival of the Orcs with their bloodlust and hatred stirred the spirit of Gorath, one of the Princes of the Fallen and he appeared to the warbands shaman and whispered promises of carnage, revenge and glory into the hearts of the Orcs. 

This warband became the first of Goraths Chosen and spread word of his dark promise to all they met until the worship of Gorath became universal amongst the surviving Orcish race. Within twenty years, the Great Horde, as it became known, had united or destroyed all Orcs upon the Endless plains and enslaved the Goblins they had discovered living on the Shores of the Cold Sea. 

The Cold Sea

With all opposition crushed, the Horde set out towards the West and the ground shook under the tread of their mighty warbeasts. At this time the Dwarves had not constructed the Great Wall to block the Axebite pass and the Orcish Horde flooded through into the Elven realms and destroyed all they found in an orgy of destruction. 

The sacking of an Elven Megacity

Army after army was utterly crushed until the Dragonlords halted the Horde at the very gates of Azgaroth and during a mighty battle that lasted for days, the allied forces of Elves, Humans and Dwarves finally beat back the raging Horde. The cost was high but he west was once again secure as the Horde was driven back through the pass and out into the Endless Plains.

Sadly for the remaining races, the war had weakened them so badly that they could not wipe out the Blackblooded raiders, instead walling up the pass to keep them in check. 

The coming of the Death has heralded a new era of bloodsoaked glory for the Orcs. Gorath has been reborn, formed from the stinking corpses of the Orcish shamans who sacrificed themselves in one night to bring their dark god to the realm of Aeroth and now his hordes once again march out to conquer the world and put all other races to the sword.

To the East, the Cold Seas Goblins, long enslaved are showing signs of restlessness and increasingly brutal reprisals by their Orcish overlords have fermented unrest and several tribes have rebelled and even now hide in the swamps that border the Cold Sea and strike at their hated masters.

To the South, the Orcs have entered the Jungles of Kesh and have disturbed the degenerate descendants of the Serpentmen and warbands have reached the boundaries of the Southern Desert and battle with the undead Children of the Worm. 

Southern Desert

The main horde though has concentrated on the West and the remains of the Elven empire. Although the only straight route and is still resolutely held by the Dwarves behind their great walls, the Horde has also flooded round the southern end of the Axeblades and Ironwall mountains and attack the ruined Elven states from the south. 

Warbeast tracks, coast of the Sea of Storms

Even as the horde moves up the coast of the Sea of Storms, they battle against the Sea Demons and from time to time, the Daughters of Leviathan, the monstrous offspring of another Fallen Prince, fling their deformed bodies at the horde.

It is a time of bloodshed and terror, set amongst the ruins of a once proud empire and the Orcs have come into their own!

The Scale of Things to Come


I've been pondering on what I am going to be doing with my Leviathan project and while much of the action is going to be skirmish based, I have also got a hankering to play out some large scale battles.

Sadly I don't have the space to field large forces in either 28mm or even 15mm scale so I am planning on trying out a smaller scale instead!

The battles on Aeroth are unlike most fantasy ones as large warbeasts and engines of destruction are fielded by all the races so theres going to be lots of opportunity for me to play around with some putty to make large creatures too!

Similarly, the basing is an issue, I had originally thought of just giving them square or rectangular bases so I could rank up large forces with ease such as my old Lesser Goblins:

Goblin Rabble!

Looking at them, they look the part for a typical fantasy type of game but Leviathan isn't your typical fantasy game. With the addition of all manner of gigantic beasts and the style of play, I think I am going to try something a bit different and use the lipped round bases like I used for my 6mm scifi gubbins:

Based Differently!

While I've mentioned the fact that in 28mm scale, the old Leviathan resin designs are a bit cartoony, I think that making big and chunky sculpts in 6mm should make for an interesting looking force and although the bases aren't to everyones tastes, I really like the look and it will also allow me to use them to make lots of mini vignettes too!
Next up comes the question of what figures to use? My lesser Goblin Rabbles were all Irregular Miniatures and while the unpainted figures look a bit iffy, with a coat of paint they really shine. Saying that, the problem with many of their sculpts is that they are produced in a strip of five or so figures on a single multi base. This becomes a bit of a problem with the style of basing I plan on using as they aren't always very easy to cut apart.

One solution is to use Microworld or Baccus as they are all singly based figures but we shall see what we can come up with in the meantime. 

Initial forces are likely to be Orcs versus Dwarves with the possibility of some small allied factions as time allows. 

In other news, I've almost finished my first 28mm figure paintjob for my Orc warband and hope to add some pics in the coming days but in the meantime, I think I am going to crack out the sculpey and tools and see if I can't sculpt up some Orc Warbeasts!
All the best!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Winter on Aeroth

"By Goraths guts, its cold!" grumbled Kurgal, attempting to draw his heavy cloak more tightly about his shoulders. His breath steamed out into the frigid air from between his tusks as the Orcish sentry gazed up the snow choked pass with unremitting hatred.

The Axebite River near Krulls Winter Encampment

The Axebite had been impassable for over a month now since the last attack had brought an avalanche crashing down from the heights, burying scores of Orcs and their Warbeasts alive and signalling the end of any possibility of the Horde breaking through the Dwarven lines.  No doubt the hated stunted ones were even now laughing into their beards as they re-inforced and repaired the wall.

Seeing his hopes of a quick victory buried under a thousand tonnes of snow, the Orcish Khan, Krull had flown into a black rage, roaring and bellowing his fury before declaring he would not, under any circumstances retreat back to the safety of the Kragh. 

Having sworn an oath to Gorath, the Khan has set about setting his warriors to construct a winter encampment amidst the pine forest at the mouth of the pass. Its presence is a reminder to the Dwarves that a foe is at their gates but winter has not been kind to the Orcish warriors as temperatures plunged until even the Axebite river froze over. 

Supplies became short and Krull sent word to the Kragh for supply caravans to be sent to his forward position. Unfortunately the Dwarves in the mighty fortress of Dur Zamor soon spotted the convoy struggling up the Old Road towards the pass and forayed out to harass it. Blood flew in the snow and the Orc caravan was thrown back in disarray, harried by fire from the two great guns of Dur Zamor, Gog and Magog.

Finding himself cut off from resupply, Krull has sent armed parties up into the mountains in attempts to find a navigable pass and the grim pinewoods echo with coarse Orc barks and bellows as groups of warriors hunt whatever game they can find.

To the north of Krulls encampment lies the hunting grounds of a barbarian tribe called the Farrions and there have been several clashes between groups as game becomes rare. Several small settlements have been pillaged already, their inhabitants slain and devoured, further enraging the Farrions. Sadly the humans are too small in number to face the Orcs in open battle but they are very adept at springing ambushes or silently killing sentries before vanishing back into their woodland home.

As supplies dwindle, the Orcs have turned first upon their slaves, the Goblins and finally on each other as the old and weak are consumed in a cannibalistic frenzy. From his dark palace far to the East, Gorath, the Orcish god sees the carnage and laughs. Here only the strongest survive and he has provided a boon to the Khan who presides over such pleasing sport. 

In the midst of a particularly brutal storm at the height of winter, an Eye of Gorath appeared to Krull and even now the hulking horned creature acts as a trusted advisor and brutally effective right hand to the Khan. No doubt the coming of spring will herald a fresh assault on the pass when word spreads that the Eye is with Krull and fresh warriors flock to his banner.

The Dwarves have not been idle during the snows. From Lone Peak, Mal Dulm and Kareth Dull, parties of Dwarves have been patrolling the secret mountain passes and battling with Orcish, Goblin and various monstrous creatures and even venturing down to the high mesas and into the forest itself to spy on their foes. 

The Endless Plains in winter

Despite their industrial skill, the Dwarves have found themselves relying on muscle power more than the coal fired boilers of their machines as the bitter cold causes them to break down and the noise they make brings increased danger of avalanche. The Dwarves are once again using sturdy pack oxen for transport. 

Wildlings, great boarlike bipeds have in times past served the Dwarves in battle and once again Beastmasters are bringing their hulking charges to battle alongside the Dwarven troops.

In Aeroth, the hope of peace come the new year is fleeting and all the races are bracing themselves for another year of fighting to survive.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Where to Begin?


As I have kicked off this new Leviathan blog with a fit of enthusiasm, I figured I should probably spend a little time covering the outline of the project and give a bit of information on the various races and locations of Aeroth!

Having  re-read some of my notes from my previous attempt at gaming the world of Aeroth, I must admit theres plenty to cover so without further ado heres a brief outline of the region of the world called the Axeblade Mountains and its assorted denizens:

The Badlands as seen from the Axeblades

"The Axeblade Mountains are a dangerous place to navigate, more so now Wild Magic has been unleashed by the thrice cursed Elves. With the onset of a winter unlike even I have never seen in my long life its becoming ever more difficult to keep our outposts and settlements supplied and protected."

The Axebite Pass in winter

"This winter has been so cold that even the Axebite River, despite being heated by our forges has frozen. Snow has blocked many of the high passes and even the broad Axebite Pass has become increasingly snowbound. The settlements of Mal Dulm and Mal Hrakken have had their populations swollen by the survivors of the destroyed Hold of Sto Heltd and are desperate for supplies to feed all the extra mouths and our border patrols are struggling to keep the military road open and safe."
Kareth Dull

The Axebite Pass

Kareth Dull lies in the Axeblade Mountains near the Axebite pass. The Holds warriors have been manning the great wall that holds the Orcish hordes from sweeping into the North West. The hold itself lies on the Southern slope of the Axebite pass and extends miles back into the mountains.

The safeland behind the wall, deep in the Axebite pass as seen from Kareth Dull

Its mines delve into the depths in search of ore to feed the mighty forges which supply the great hold with its mighty weapons of war while its great walls have held the Orcish hordes at bay for untold centuries. With the arrival of many holdless Dwarf clans, Kareth Dull has begun settling the surrounding area, sending forth doughty groups of warriors to protect its fledgling settlements.

The great hold of Kareth Dull

In the two hundred years since the Death, the Dwarves have rebuilt the exterior of their great hold and expanded it to include terraced fields and ingenious aquifers that are slowly bringing the land back to life but they must be jealously defended from those who would take it from them and the very mountainside itself bristles with fortifications, gun emplacements and towers.

Mal Dulm
The Pass of Mal Dulm

The settlement of Mal Dulm was the first camp set up by the Dwarves following the Death. Unlike other Dwarven settlements it is situated on the surface and was originally intended to house the influx of refugees from the Hold of Sto Heldt which was destroyed by an earthquake immediately following the death.
View of the Pass of Mal Dulm from the Kareth Dull
Despite being called a settlement it is more akin to a military encampment with the surviving clans of Sto Heldt and colonists from Kareth Dull having quickly built sturdy walls and defences strong enough to withstand even the most determined bands of marauding Goblins.

Situated to the East of Kareth Dull, Mal Dulm lies in a secluded pass and is only accessible via a single narrow trail. While a boon for defence it makes supplying the settlement rather difficult. Fortunately the inhabitants have managed to cultivate small fields of crops in the high meadows above and recently began work on digging mine shafts into the surrounding peaks. These mines have begun returning promising amounts of iron ore, coal and even small amounts of Adamantium.
View of the approaches to the Hanging Road

The road from Kareth Dull to Mal Dulm is a miracle of Dwarven engineering as a large part of it is built along a cliff face. Constructed from solid rock and iron girders the Hanging Road is one of the wonders of the new world. From the Hanging Road the trail becomes more narrow and difficult to navigate so each caravan is led by an experienced trail master well versed in mountain lore.
 Mal Hrakken

The hot springs at Mal Hrakken

 Built at the Southern tip of the newly constructed military road which winds its way through the Axeblades, Mal Hrakken was built next to the steaming springs which have recently burst through to the surface during the same quake that destroyed Sto Heldt. The settlement itself has been constructed directly into the cliff face surrounding the hot springs. Now mighty watermills line the outflow providing the new settlement with power.

The bottom of the cliffs near Mal Hrakken

Mal Hrakken is still a small settlement but is quite well protected. It needs to be as the cliffs hot pools have become the home of several wild dragons and the wealth of the Dwarves have led to strife as several drakes have taken to trying to raid the settlement. One particular dragon, a great grey ironback called Ripjaw has taken great pleasure in attacking the caravans winding their way along the military road.

Dragon hunting by War Balloon!

A recent addition to the settlement in the form of a squadron of war balloons has been called in to deal with Ripjaw but the high winds and freezing temperatures have limited their use during the winter. In the meantime an exploration party has been dispatched to the Hoodoo Basin to the South in an attempt to locate the troublesome Drakes lair.
Dur Zamor
Lone Peak

Dur Zamor lies at the Eastern tip of the Southern side of the Axebite pass high in the mountain called Lone Peak. It is surrounded by high mesas and grim pine forests but has been built with a single purpose. It holds a pair of mighty guns called Grimm and Gogg. These mighty guns have a range of several miles and have been used to pound the Orcish hordes that move along the Old Road from the Kargh towards the Axebite pass.
Dawn View from Lone Peak

Not surprisingly the Orcish Khans are desperate to destroy the keep but due to its location its proved almost impossible to assault. This has changed recently with the discovery of a narrow defile which leads from the valley of the Seven Daughters up into the High Mesa. Now hordes of Orcs are amassing in preparation of the coming of spring to assault the keep. Fortunately for the Dwarves this force has been spotted and engineers have been working round the clock to mine the defile so when the Orcs do come they will have a very warm welcome!
 The Broken Lands
The Broken Lands and Golden Lode River as seen from the Axeblades

The Broken Lands are a large area of tortured earth riddled with chasms and scree. Even for the Axeblades its a dangerous place with few safe ways through and even the bravest of Dwarven explorers have given it a wide berth thus far. Its Northern boundary is marked by the Golden Lode river while the Axeblades mark its southern border. Despite its dangers the Broken Lands are inhabited. Its is a mecca for elemental creatures of all sorts as the constant movement of earth has provided an unexpectedly strong source of Earthpower.

Lighting strikes in the Broken Lands

It is this instability that has begun attracting adventurers as the quakes have brought precious metals and jewels to the surface and if one can but survive the surroundings, a fortune can be made.
High Mesa

The High Mesa

The High Mesa bounds the Eastern side of the Axeblade Mountains. Its Eastern edge is marked by a steep cliff which proves an initial deterrent to any Orcs trying to approach the Axeblades. 

Amongst its towering spires and hidden box canyons, tribes of wild Goblins live in small settlements set high in the cliff faces, far from the reach of all but the most determined of enemies. Living simple lives of hunter gatherers, these Goblins have been forced to take up arms to defend themselves from the ever present threat of Orcish slavers. Of late several slaver caravans have disappeared without trace, much to the outrage of the Orcish Khans.
Wild Goblin cliff settlement
Hoodoo Basin

The Hoodoo Basin maze

The Hoodoo Basin is a region of strangely shaped boulders, carved by the Ironlode which at one time fed into a large lake, long since drained. The resulting boulder field is a treacherous maze of strange canyons and is almost impossible to penetrate. It is this maze like quality that has attracted Ripjaw, the mighty grey ironback dragon to make its lair in the caverns which lie at its centre.
 The Seven Daughters
Three of the Seven Daughters at dawn

The valley of the Seven Daughters is steeped in myth as the great pillars which gave the area its name are supposed to be the daughters of the Earth Mother frozen for eternity. It is a sacred region for Dwarves, Barbarians and even the nomadic free Goblin tribes and even the Orcish horde avoids entering it for fear of the elemental creatures that dwell there.
 The Kragh

The Kragh is a fortified settlement built into a mesa on the edge of the Endless Plains and ruled by the iron hand of Gugrum the Large, a Khan of truly titanic proportions. Originally a trading outpost of Dwarven construction, The Kragh was overrun and sacked by the horde shortly after the Death. It is one of the few permanent settlements used by the Orcs and is a staging post for ferrying reinforcements from the plains to the endless siege of the Axebite Pass.

With large subterranean storage caves, the Kragh has been used to store everything from loot to slave and supplies and as such Gugrum has become hugely wealthy and his ravenous appetite has led to him becoming so fat that he cannot walk but is carried everywhere by four burly Great Orcs on a solid gold palanquin. This has led to great resentment with the surrounding Khans as they have to pay exorbitant bribes to Gugrum and his underlings for passage through the settlement.

 Krulls Winter Encampment

The Axebite River near Krulls Encampment

The base of operations of a particularly ambitious and brutal Khan, Krulls winter encampment is a sprawling tent city sitting in the mouth of the Axebite pass. From here Krull has led repeated assaults on the mighty Dwarven defences but without success as even his greatest warbeasts have been unable to breach the wall.

Realising that such a frontal assault is unlikely to succeed, Krull has recently begun sending trusted underlings on armed expeditions into the surrounding mountains in search of an alternative route. Such underhanded cunning is rather unlike most Khans but thus far Krulls expeditions have met with limited success as dozens of Orcs have been frozen in the high mountains or ambushed by Dwarven patrols.
The ever present threat of avalanche

Hunger is becoming a real problem for the Orcs in the encampment and they have resorted to eating their Goblin slaves resulting in many of the remaining Goblins attempting to escape their slave pens and join their wild kin in the badlands and mountains. The fact that their food supply is now running away with valuable weapons and even warbeasts has enraged the Orcs and several punitive raids have driven these free Goblin tribes further into the wild hinterlands.

Whee! Well hopefully that will give you some sort of an idea as to what the setting has in store in the coming months and worry not! The Boar Company will return too for the beginning of a new series of Somewhere on the Border battle reports!

All the best!