SURVIVE HARDER! -- Complete Season 2 (Amazon Blood Bowl AAR)

Started by JasonPratt, August 03, 2014, 04:29:26 PM

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Thanks for tuning in for Season Two of my ongoing Amazon campaign on the PC version of Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition!

I fraternally anticipate questions!

Too bad. If you have no idea what's going on yet, you'd be better off reading the Season One AAR thread, also here on Grogheads:

Forward then to Season Two! -- Midget And Tentacle Boogaloo!

Some quick links if you're visiting the thread to check in for new entries:

Game 1, the very next post, duh.
Game 2 (from pregame onward): Starts here
Game 3 (from pregame onward): Starts here
Game 4 (best game all season?): Here
Game 5 (season grand finale): Here.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 1: 1 of 2

The women were grumbling in disappointment -- not a single Wood Elf anywhere!

Not all the women were grumbling; Marbet was explaining again, a little less patiently than from several times before: "Various nations and factions only sponsor a tournament now. Who plays in a cup depends completely on who signs up, which again depends completely on -- "

"These aren't even woods!" floated from somewhere ahead, where the women were jogging ahead of the caravan, theoretically training but actually performing for the watchers quickly lining the roadsides at our approach.

"I have to agree with you there!" I cheerfully called from my seat on the lead command-wagon. That earned me a glare from Marbet sitting next to me, dressed in gameday finery for our approach while I drove. Better for the crowd to be focusing on her rather than on me; she looked more striking anyway, even without the bits of uniform worn by the women trotting and flipping around ahead of us. "You look lovely, even regal," I added with an admiring smile though quietly just for her. She harumphed, and flushed a little, and tried not to smile, and badly failed.

"One of these days," she murmured back, "we'll get to dress you up as you deserve, son of Stoneshield. I promise. I even threaten it," she quirked her smile with a wicked sparkle. "The other women will EEP!" I had stomped the throttle pedal a bit, goosing the gnomish engine under the wagon.

"But that's because," I loudly continued while Marbet regained her balance, "the various stadiums in and out of the Empire bid each season to host on various games of the cups!" Thus, we were pulling into a northern-coast estuary city known by the unimaginative but ancient name of Habre, just on the edge of Empire lands, where the largest ships in the world could dock. We would be playing our first game of the Ariel Cup on one such ship. And not against any elves; nor even with any substantial number attending, I expected.

The women would get their fill of stunty ogres, though. And trees.

As the assigned home team for our first match in the tourney pool, we were allowed to pick between the Mad Dog Jets, another necromantic team, and the Pinkfoot Panthers, a halfling team. Our rewards being the same either way, Marbet and I agreed again to choose the team with the least League valuation: the halfings, unsurprisingly. The only downside to us from this was that, the valuation disparity not being nearly as great as usual, we were only allowed an extra 160K by the League to spend on the game. Enough for an extra wandering apothecary, but only also one Bloodweiser keg.

The halflings, no doubt, thought this was great. An even-less-valued Amazon team, still dead last in the League with no prestige at all, rather than the nightmarish demons and undead things?!

They don't hide their smutty chuckling as the teams line up on the pitch a few days later.

[Gamenote: I've got the yellow tackle zone markers turned on in this gameshot.]

They do have skilz but halfling players come in two modes: "halflings" and "treemen" (also known as ents and treants).

Having won the toss they elect to receive, and after lining up the Wall I have Athtar attempt a kickoff near the front line. This works very well, falling to the ground just across the centerline after various hobbits fumble it; then they try moving some players around and get hammered on the second try! Woot! Although, the little ogre seems surprisingly pleased as well as surprised by the nimble kick. "At least he has a good humor about it," I shrug as Marbet grimaces.

"Time to go to work!" calls Akantha the Seducer. "Submit!" I put my head in my hand and grimace twice as hard as Marbet.

The Ents are horribly well guarded at the moment, and though the women whittle down their nearby defenders a bit, they can't find a way to safely assault them. Okay fine. I signal Anazmache upfield a little to provide support-distraction, and then rather daringly (in hindsight) signal Agamede Ainia to to pick up the ball.

She eagerly flips over two halfings in the process, one of them twice(!!), along the way to running downfield left! GO GIRL GO!!

The ents only succeed in pushing the interlocked wall of women around a bit; the halflings try a triple team on Anazmache which slaps her back a square yard or so; and they scoot up two players to double-mark Agamede so she'll have trouble running for the score. Then their only halfling in my backfield tries to run back up for support, and gets clobbered by Athtar. "She said, submit. Good boy!" she teases.

Agamede has plowed to a stop while trying to find a way safely past the intercepting hobbits. Andromeda flips past a treant as her teammates on the left wing clear a path, but she's the only woman who can currently lend some support to Agamede downfield, who is finding the stunty micro-ogres surprisingly resilient to her martial arts.

Several more halflings converge on her to box her in, preparing to blitz her with maximum support, but one makes the mistake of trying to run directly past her to get between her and the end-zone and she SWATS HIM WITH A BACKKICK!

Andromeda, seeing this, runs her own short blitz to remove the hobbit at Agamede's back -- together they knock him down -- and flipping over her one remaining nearby guarder Agamede strains just a bit to get moving before the other nearby players can start to follow, running in the ball for our first score of the tourney!

This could be a bad day for the halflings...

Then again, I imagine any day is a bad day for their team.

My short-off kick plan worked great last time; no reason to try something different. Line up with my Adjusted Wall formation and we're off again.

The kick is high, which allows one player to get under it for a catch -- so long as the player doesn't start in one of my tackle zones. This works, but then they try to move a player past our front line (as usual for this team) and he gets his bell rung out of the game for a while (probably until the next score or halftime).

I signal to just strength up our right wing defense (for now) and not press the attack much.

The poor halflings on the left try to get through my line again and get legged with another KO immediately.

We still can't really reach the carrier yet, but the right-wing punches a hole up to him and marks everyone on that side.

This time the hobbits manage to sneak and dodge around most of the girls and push a couple of girls with some double and triple teams, while the carrier runs up to a treant for a pick-up and throw. This works, although by "works" I mean he spikes the hobbit on the ground nearby, behind my line, causing another KO and leaving the ball free!

Oigme points women to cover the remaining halflings to prevent them moving around too easily, and then sends Athtar (one of the only two women free to move safely in range of the pickup) to grab the ball.

As hard as she tries to grab the quite-literally-accursed thing, however, the ball janks itself free.

"Hey, doll!" a halfling uncautiously yells, seeing this embarrassing failure. "Lemme show you how to grab a ball!" -- and then gets stunned from behind by one of the women doing tacklezone duty. He'll be down until the half, which by now is coming up soon.

Athtar picks up the ball this time and runs downfield left; Oigme, on field-command, sends a linewoman and our left blitzer over to help 'cage' her, and otherwise ensure the remaining halflings rightfield are TZd.

After shuffling the hobbits (and the treemen) around a bit uselessly, mainly hoping to score an injury on one of the women I guess (which doesn't work), one of the halflings attempts an insane blitz past at least three defenders -- and almost makes it! Almost.

[Gamenote: I can't imagine what the theory there was. Putting the halfling deep center in my backfield isn't going to keep me from scoring! The coach would have been better off attempting to do some 1-die block attempts at the end of his turn, hoping to score a lucky injury!]

Fortunately for them, the final seconds are ticking down, and so Athtar seeing she won't get to the zone skids to a stop to toss the ball back and forth as they warily eye the halfling line during this bizarre performance.

"Why?" asks Akantha Synope to the final fallen hobbit as the women trot back to our end of the pitch for a half-time rest.

He just sighs and grins up at the sky. "Why'm I even out here on th' pitch at all? Heh."

He waves off worried teammates and spends most of his halftime rest just lying comfortably on the wooden deck on our side of the pitch, hands folded behind his head, looking at the sky.

"He can probably smell your feet, or something just as disgusting," Marbet Mavenwood snarls at the women who line up along our goal-line with mugs to watch him... something like growing affection.

Or even awe.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 1: 2 of 2

[Gamenote: Our cheering fans plus other previous bonuses will give us five rerolls this half! Yay!]

The kicker is insanely accurate and plants the ball in our own endzone!

Okay fine. No reason to do anything other than reduce their front line a bit before running our left-wing thrower, Athtar, down for a pickup attempt. The halflings have adjusted their line to provide more cover for their hobbits by the ents, but that doesn't prevent Andromeda from blitzing up to double-tap one to the deck and then reversing her blitz-momentum to run back to help tackle-zone the line.

My rightward linewomen for some unclear reason can double-tap the halfling flanker despite his treeman guard, and so pushes him back on general principle.

That done, time to pickup: which succeeds!

Since their right side (my left) is slightly weaker right now, and Athtar is on my left anyway, I send our catcher Teresa up to strengthen the line.

And yeah, right off the bat the halflings fail badly. All their previous KOs woke up at the half to come back, but this is yet another straight-up injury which will hurt their chances as the tourney goes on.

My right front line shuts down their guards while Athtar starts her long run from deep upfield.

This time the hobbits (or at least their treeline) find some competency, stunning Oigme in the center of our line, and pushing back my left center a little to allow three leakers to hobble through.

Their competency doesn't keep me from running (and even forward handing off) the ball far downfield, and providing a bit of support for Alkidike who currently has the ball.

There's no possible chance for the halflings to catch her -- one of them must have said something especially impolite near Zerynthia because something horrible happens to him, partly obscured by a tree and sending the third injury to the sideline this half -- and so with only a bit of a strain to outpace the final halfling in her way, Alkidike handily runs it in.

Do we have the best cheerleaders? Yes. Yes we do.

Though admittedly, this is our competition currently.

Still no reason to change what's working for us on the line; but the halflings do change up a bit, getting as many players away from my line as possible. I'm happy continuing to keep their treants from maneuvering safely, and with multiple line support they can't do a lot to my girls, so that's okay.

The hobbit cooks are admittedly kind of distracting in their own way, and a shift in the breeze wafts delicious fragrances to our increasingly hungry team; the hobbits themselves are inspired by this to start running while the ball is still in the air! But since none of them were on the line they still have to move past two or three tackle zones to breach us and once again it just doesn't happen.

At least they have the ball somehow -- Athtar tried to kick it short but they have it deep right.

The women knock down a hobbit and otherwise strengthen up our right side while marking up several players for tackling later.

The halflings now set up a pretty good depth screen. I feel fairly sure they're trying to do that tree-throwing thing again, which has been catastrophic for them both times I've seen it tried, once while secretly scouting their practice [Gamenote: I saw it first during a turn that got nixed due to loss of power sending me back to a post-score save], so sure why not let them do what they want?

The clock ticks away as they think about their future, approaching the game end sooner.

The halflings shuffle around in the backfield a while, unsure what to do, maybe trying to set up a pass on our left. Alkidike figures what the hell, runs up in a blitz, knocks the ball carrier down, picks up the ball and basically dares everyone nearby to do something about it!

Well, they do -- that was more than a little bit risky even against a halfling team -- but she's only stunned, nothing worse, and they had to waste more clock trying to get the ball back and set up for anything. A treant does send one girl to the sideline KO'd but I don't waste the apoth since she'll be okay next game.

As the final seconds tick away, the main thing is to ensure they don't succeed at anything too goofy. I suspect they've been holding off to try a long bomb by treant, throwing the ball carrier into the endzone, and the easiest way to stop that is to mob up to the treants. There isn't any way any halfling will be able to score otherwise in the time remaining, and neither can we for that matter; and consolidating my girls so far as possible for reinforcing defense is also the safest play.

Just to be safe though, the women finally manage to knock one treant down with a four-girl mob!

Yet after clearing a bit of a path for a possible run and throw downfield, all the halflings do is shuffle around uncertainly in their backfield some more, and that's the end of the game.

Can't say beating up on halflings feels great -- the women are clearly glad the game is over and yet not cheering for their own victory -- but we needed the win. The other teams in our pool this tourney are more than grim.

And then, to our great surprise, the remaining halflings all line up and bow to the women most politely, leaving the girls amazed and even bemused as the micro-ogres trot in good form off the pitch. The treemen take root in the deck and go to sleep in the smiling sun.

"Well," I say: "You got some woods after all!"

...and then they take turns punching me as they leave the field, grumbling about me ruining the mood.

[Gamenote: Alkidike earns enough experience to level up, but doesn't roll doubles so can only pick up a general skill -- but she would have probably still taken Block anyway.]
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 2: Pregame

"Back where I grew up," Marbet was saying as the Crusher Caravan disembarked once again up-fjord at the Norse village-field after another miserable trip across the Balltik Sea, "wealthy couples would travel to well-kept rustic villages like this to spend a romantic month or two."

"I know." I swallowed my queasiness, walking next to the command-wagon as she carefully drove it off the fjord-barge. Marbet was a much better driver, and more importantly didn't get sick from water travel. "Our castle on the borderlands was one such destination for especially risky couples. They never came back as a rule. And didn't stay a month. And we weren't even as remotely close to the hole in Chaos north of here which will probably doom -- "

"AT LEAST," she continued through gritted teeth, "all the remaining games of the cup are scheduled here this time!" The back wheels reached the muddy but rocky ground. Marbet exhaled in relief, then asked, "Would you feel better walking or climbing back -- ?"

"WALKING! But thank you. Thank all the lords above. Unless we're still in this godforsaken place when winter comes." The team had raced off the boat or ship or whatever this was -- not what we had crossed the sea in, which made it worse -- why couldn't we just march and drive up-fjord to the village and risk the lack of roads?! Now they were somewhat unsteadily celebrating their return to this snowy arena where they had spilled their blood so often before. And would again.

Marbet and I had to stay behind to get our equipment and other caravan-members safely on shore. My legs were wobbly, and Marbet was jumping down to oversee other offloading, so I changed my mind and climbed with equal wobbliness up on the driver's seat. At least she had warmed that side of the cushions. I turned down the gnomish air-blow-heaters a little; right this moment I needed cooler air in the face.

A courier for the League approached, bearing the sealed instructions for who we would fight in our second game. It wouldn't be the hobbits again: they had been assigned to be the home team on the first of the Day 2 games, and so would get to choose their opponent which couldn't be us as the other assigned home-team for the day.

And really, they only had one reasonable choice.

Leaving to us the logical result.

"Nurgle," I confirmed Marbet's uneasy expectation, as she returned to the wagon. "Worse than wights and werewolves." I looked to the north, from where the chaos daemons sent their horrid impulses winding over the world.

"Nurgle," I told the other women that night, as we ate a celebration feast for having arrived in safety. "I could have waited until you had finished eating, I know. But then you would have been worried over a secret. Go ahead and try to eat," I told them in the face of their grimacing nausea. "We had to fight them sometime. Might as well learn to steel yourself a little as soon as possible."

"What can we expect?" Oigme asked, putting down a haunch, and picking it up again and trying to take a bite. And putting it down again. And picking it up to hold it near her mouth again at least.

"Rotting bodies cursed by demons but not undead. Not exactly," Marbet added and closed her eyes. "Most undead would rather avoid or kill the living. Nurgle devotees want to... recruit. Sometimes aggressively.

"They do have rules," she hastily added, "which even they are afraid to transgress. Despite their embrace of dissolution they don't, usually, want to die, and the chips will give them pain that even they cannot shrug off. So, try not to worry about them... infecting you. They are forbidden.

"They will however repulse you. Aggressively."

"But," I added, "the rot with which they'll offend your senses, also makes them a little more likely to fall apart themselves. So your attacks should do more damage."

"On the other hand," Marbet sighed, "even though they cannot directly infect you, their own attacks will... make you more susceptible to damage, too.

"Those of you not yet scarred... your time has come."

Andromeda the former tavernmaid had heard enough. She stood up and addressed the other women:

"Men always expect us to clean up messes!" -- earning a little laughter. "All kinds of bodily fluids!" -- and that got more. "Well this time -- we get to stomp them for it, for glory and for gold!" -- more again, though still rather muted. "Now when we enter a town, we're feasted and cheered as heroines! I'm not going to give that up, surrender that, and go back to cleaning up messes anyway without any thanks or recompense worth mentioning!"

"I have borne two children!" one of the newer remaining training women said. "Whoever has been a mother, or an older sister or visiting cousin; what can these things do we haven't already survived!?

"We'll just survive them HARDER!"

After the cheers died down a little, I made a pertinent announcement: "Lykopis has been training with us many months by now; and Lady Marbet and I have decided we've earned enough money to finally give her a contract!"

"My children died of disease," Lykopis continued a little more quietly after the cheers died down again. "Some of you already know that; others know it now." The training women were certainly not sequestered from everyone else, of course. "These... traitors to life. They worship that which stole my babies.

"I ask you to let me hunt them with you."

Lykopis the Huntress knelt before them. "I beg you."

They granted her plea. Our lucky 13th teamwoman.

[Gamenote: we start this particular game with 100K earned back into the treasury thanks to our win over the hobbits -- but what to spend it on? We can only have one permanent apothecary for the foreseeable future (maybe ever -- I'm far from entirely clear on that yet). We could buy more cheerleaders and coaching pretty cheaply; but the more important purchases right now would be either another permanent reroll or else a 13th player. (We could buy two more complete amateur linewomen but that doesn't seem to be a good idea as I already have several linewomen who haven't leveled up yet.)

We have the maximum of two catchers already, but completing a set of throwers seems a good idea. I have the money now to buy my 3rd of 4th allowed blitzers, too, which mainly have the advantage of starting with the block skill. I decide we already have a helpful number of rerolls (though more couldn't hurt) so filling out the roster should be priority; and finalizing our thrower squad would leave a little more money to build up for getting our final two blitzers later.

Thus does Lykopis the Huntress join our team as lucky 13! -- and I add a touch more coaching skill as well.

Strictly speaking as the designated home team again for the first of the two Day 2 games, we get first pick of opponents, the halflings getting whoever we leave: the Mad Dog Jets, a Necromantic team with value 1420, or the Nurgle team they lost to in the first round the Aukrug Eruptors with value 1310. A win against them would help offset their tournament score, but that's only important for seeding -- elimination is what counts in the playoffs and we'll have to play any tough team anyway, or whichever team beat the toughest on their side of the playoff tree! The points may carry over to prestige but that doesn't matter in-tourney. At the end of the day, fighting the lower value team when I have the option seems the better strategy, so Nurgle it is.

But I couldn't think of a way that the characters would willingly choose a Nurgle team over practically any other team, so for the story I switched it around as though the Panthers got first choice -- and naturally didn't pick Nurgle!

Besides, for dramatic purposes a new kind of team makes better sense when given an opportunity.]
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Saw the link to this in your sig, so I came over to check it out.  Wow!  This is a great AAR you are doing here!  I really need to check out Blood Bowl one day....
"As I understand from your communication, Mr. Engle, you're on the brink of self-destruction. May I shake your hand? A brilliant idea! I speak as one who has destroyed himself a score of times.  I am, Mr. Engle, a veteran corpse. We are all corpses here! This rendezvous is one of the musical graveyards of the town. Caters to zombies hopping around with dead hearts and price tags for souls." - Angels Over Broadway


^^ Thanks! Have you read Season One yet? Just curious.  :)

The AAR for Game 2 should be up sometime tonight.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


I thank any readers for their patience.

Let the horror begin.

Survive Harder Season Two: Game 2: 1 of 2

"I didn't know Lykopis was a mother," I say as the goblin referee marches down our line checking for illegal stimulants. "Used to be, I mean. I didn't know that any of them had been." A storm has started; far on the other side of the pitch a sickly green miasma wafts despite the blowing snow.

"Well, you don't busy yourself with their personal histories much," Marbet says as we try to glimpse our opponents -- technically we know what they'll be, as do our women, but still... All of us are staring through the snow, the women wrapped up in furs until their time, sipping hot mugs of Bloodweiser grog. "Maybe a third have had children and then lost them." Now I'm staring at her instead of through the storm. "If you look closely enough you might see marks remaining. Granted, they're all in athletic shape now, so you might have to scrutinize them closely..."

"Ha, ha. And what about you?"

"Have I ever lost any children? Or do you want to scrutinize me closely?"

"You're sure in a playful mood today!" The goblin is calling the teams to the line for the coin toss.

"I'm scared out of my mind. But I won't have to go out on the field and be... touched by them. The other women need to see that we aren't worried. I thought you knew that from being on campaign, with your father."

"We fought goatmen, yes." The Eruptors have brought some horny beasts to fill their specialty roles. "Nurgle-infested cults, no. My father, yes; me, no. And we had decent armor against the beastman hordes. I've led these women, in bits of nothing, to fight against..." I bite my lip in terrible recrimination. Lords above, all those things are armored hulks. Even the...

...the Beast of Nurgle among them.

The women can see it now, as it shuffle-drags itself across the field.

It stops... and from behind its head, which is mostly only mouth and teeth, a cluster of feelers reach out in their direction.

The women falter in their approach. Only a moment, but the Eruptors burble with chuckles seeing it.

"They're falling apart inside!" I yell across the pitch. "That's why they need so much armor, to keep themselves together! All it does is slow them down! -- if they weren't wearing any, the SNOW would be dissolving them!" The women, some of them, raise their hands a little in acknowledgment and thanks, and keep on approaching their enemies.

The Nurgles win the toss and elect to receive. The women line up in a wall, while the goblin shoos the extra players off the field. But...


Aeta and Teresa both return to Marbet and me behind our goal-line.

"What are you doing?!" I ask our two catchers insistently. Athtar and Lykopis, our two throwers, are setting up in the backfield.

"You don't need us right now. They've got the ball."

"And the goblin practically shoved us off the field," Teresa adds in some confusion.

"They won't have the ball all half! We may need catchers later!" But my attempts at getting them back on the field are interrupted by the referee giving the ball to Athtar to kick. Once that happens, no more substitutions can be made until the half or after a score.

"He's been bribed," Marbet Mavenwood growls. "He saw an opportunity during the snow to confuse us, and he took it!"

[Gamenote: in actuality this was partly my fault. In a kicking situation the game defaults to putting the catchers in the dugout and lining up more power players, linemen and blitzers; but I didn't realize this until I had already clicked the Accept Lineup button -- a problem exacerbated by discovering an annoying bug still in the gamecode. The previous game I had discovered I can save a modified version of one of the standard starting formations under a new name. I expected this to be part of our "playbook" henceforth, so when I replaced "The Wall" with a slightly different arrangement I figured that that arrangement still would stay for this new game. WRRRONGGGG! Later I would discover that saving the arrangement under a new name makes no difference, as the game doesn't retain that information from match to match either.]

"Maybe it won't matter, in this snow." I squint to see where Athtar kicks the ball. "Well done!" I yell as she and Lykopis run up to the line: precisely in the Nurgle endzone far left, so they'll have a maximum distance to run with it, though a goatman is already running over to pick it up. "This kind of weather hampers ball handling anyway."

"So... we have to out-fight those heavy -- NO!" Marbet yells, seeing Andromeda stunned, first by the nauseous reek of a player, and then crushed down as she gags. The goblins race her off the field as the players shuffle tactically around them in the snow; the bony apothecary says Andromeda won't be permanently hurt, but will be out of the rest of this game.

This doesn't bode well.

Against such large and well-armored foes, we have no way to dominate physically, even with strategic placement. At best, we may be able to overlap our protection in our supporting groups. For defense, that means we'll have to move very slowly and carefully and let the ball come to us while risking moving through tackle zones to swarm it; then trying to break free for any kind of scoring.

Anazmache, our only other blitzer, seeing her fellow former taverngirl go down, calls across the line:

"Either they ruin us, or the snow will! I SAY FIGHT THE SNOW!"

So saying she acrobatically flips out of the way of her nearby goatman and runs back centerward on the line. "Don't hold back!" she cries. "They're mostly slow and thuggy! Go ahead and risk the jumps! -- we've practiced precision in snow like this, remember?" She suits actions to words and blitzes right up to a lineman who steels himself for her pitiable blow --

-- but then gets hammered from two other sides by syncopated kicks!

The women roar, against the snow, against their fear, against their revulsion, and add some kicks to the squiddy thing in the middle, pushing it and a rotter around.

"Let Andromeda be our warning!" Oigme agrees, as the Eruptors stumble around in confusion, unable to understand why the women aren't cowering yet. "We have survived undead in the snow before. SURVIVE HARDER!!"

Okay, that bodes more well...

The goat-thing back in their goal-line starts his run; the goatmen are almost as nimble as our women, and still a bit stronger. I should have told the women to mob them whenever they can and try to remove them from the game!

As the Nurgles send back some players to start to build a defensive cage around the ball, the tentacle beast recovers from its confused resentment and lashes out at Zerynthia -- knocking her unconscious! The goblin couriers whisk her deftly away from its probing caresses.

Nine women left on the field already.

The only good news is that, by building his cage this early, the other coach is giving us something like parity on the line.

The women respond in fury, but they only eke out some tactical knockdowns, straining hard for those, burning precious energy reserves in the opening minutes. I signal the code to pull the line more inward, for mutual defense, and wait for the ball to approach. It's about all we can do.

Nurgle pushes around several women and punches two to the ground, but the women are getting their second wind now, and quickly stand back up. More problematic, the goat runner has made it to midfield right and the Eruptors have formed a very decent cage around him.

We do manage a nice tactical shift field-right, but can only get some light knockdowns and pushes.

Yet this is enough to convince the cowardly goatman to run back center deep and hide behind a screen, which gets a few more Nurgles off our shrinking line! -- but not enough.

A goatman rams the Synope sister Akantha hard in the hip and it shatters; she falls, unable to keep from screaming -- crushed short by a blow to the head before she even hits the ground.

The beastman grunts in amusement and casually strolls away to victimize someone else if he can.

As the game continues, the goblin couriers rush the fallen woman to our waiting apothecary. We have no choice -- even though the game has barely started and we couldn't afford second apoth this time, and...

"Fractured skull. Shattered hip," the older woman grimly reports. Andromeda is crawling across the infirmary's hide-covered ground to where her fellow woman lies. Marbet is trying to keep from covering her mouth in grief, and not succeeding very well. "The League will only allow me to treat one of those injuries fully. And then... nothing more, to anyone else, not in this game.

"You did this to me," she hisses in Marbet's direction. "You talked me into joining up with this travesty -- where I'm FORBIDDEN to help an injured woman! Even when I can!!"

"Hey!" I interrupt her. "Tell me what those choices mean. Be quick -- more women may die out there while I'm distracted here. In a battle a medic may not have time to do much, and that's what this is."

She sneers at me in derision, no doubt seeing me as part of the problem, but answers. "Either she loses some speed forever, or she's forever more likely to get hurt again. After the game, I can treat her better -- "

"I understand. Thank you. Treat the skull; we don't want her losing her mind, either. Treat the hip... pieces later," I stumble, trying to stay firm in command, "after the game, as well as you can. I don't blame you at all for anything," I try to add. "I promise you I blame myself." But she doesn't care.

Meanwhile the women have slugged their way, near the slug, into the second half of the first of the halves.

We need to consolidate our line again and try our best to send some of them to the pit.

We do pretty well although no Nurgle fiend goes down for any extended time. I'm not exactly happy about our two throwers remaining next to the evil landsquid either.

The squid twists its head and bites Lykopis with its blunted teeth, seizing her body and throwing her down!

-- but as it exhales in horrid triumph and sends its feelers forward to find her body, she stands and slaps their tender edges away. The thing recoils in surprise a little.

As the other women cheer her tenacious daring, a Nurgle lineman tries to blitz and GETS POWERKICKED FOR HIS TROUBLE!

None of this has stopped the nurgs from forming a very solid protective cage on field-left now. I seriously have no idea how we can stop them, once the goatman ever works up the courage to rush up to or around the line.

The goatman who so badly hurt Akantha Snyope is attacked by her sister, Alkidike, but even with help against him he only rolls to his feet again. One of the women has to risk flipping out of the tackle zone of a lineman midfield right. Most of them block up to reinforce against the probable push downfield behind the squiddy thing; but that horny guy in our backfield might ruin our slender hopes in several ways.

The landsquid shoves ahead; but Lykopis, still bravely in front of it, refuses to fall and is only pushed backward! It pants from its exertions, as the women behind and flanking her for support all mock its failure! A heavy lineman tries to blitz the cluster by surprise, while they taunt --

-- but they tense up and refuse to fall! He cannot even successfully push them out of their formation!

"Survive," they're chanting to themselves. "Survive, survive... HARDER!!"

"Bring it back over here!" Lykopis the Huntress yells to her enemies, and slaps what ought to be the face of the snail, which recoils and whines a little. "I see some things I need to stomp!"

The ball-goat, on seeing and hearing all this, backs up again and forms EVEN MORE of a cage with loose Nurgles! "Oh, you're going to need more help than that, whenever I get my hands on you!" Lykopis continues to shout, to cheers from her team and the crowd.

Even the goatman in our backfield declines to attack them from the rear, although he does seem to be lining up for a pass reception. I thank whatever god might be applicable for the snow, which may be shutting down their passing game. No one on our side is hurt, and the momentum of their attempted drive fizzles out; but now what?

Now -- not much. A small knockdown, and otherwise the women just reform a line on center left with right field extensions.

"Hold on a few more minutes," I yell, clearly and not in code, "and we'll get the ball automatically!" -- trying to reassure the women and goad the Eruptors' coach into trying something more risky.

Instead, quite conservatively, they look to be setting up a push, field right.

I've trained Oigme well to recognize tactical field situations; our best bet now will be to strengthen the right side as much as possible, preventing any hope of Nurgle reaching the end zone by trying to flank us on the left -- which would take him too much of the clock before halftime.

But during this, another of my women goes down with a KO. She might be back at the half but who knows? Sigh.

[Gamenote: I had rather foolishly turned off the running action result list, in order to get better screenshots, and I hadn't learned yet that I could turn on names above the players. So often I'm just guessing about what is happening to which player of mine.]

With my right side strengthed up, and two Nurgles temporarily on the ground over there, the women save up their remaining strength for the coming push of the Erupters' final surge this half.

As expected, they push a girl out of the way to open up a lane for the goatman to run in, but that's futile -- they don't have enough time remaining for him to make it into the endzone! And one of his linemen slips on the ice while trying to catch up, ahahahahahah!

Does this mean we have any chance to score? By no means. But seeing the goatman attempting to make his move, the women in careful coordination have pushed and knocked down a couple of rotters on the line, and now in the final seconds they UTTERLY SWARM THE GOATMAN!! -- smashing him from the side a moment after his lineman slips on the slush while trying to intercept the blitz --

-- kicking free the ball without another woman being hurt!

Anazmache, stumbling in exhaustion, makes two heroic exertions to control the quivering cursed ball... but she fails. It falls away.

The goblin referee blows the halftime signal, and each team leaves the field in some dejection.

Though all their team will easily return.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 2: 2 of 2

None of my injured players come back of course, but the KO'd women also fail to wake up.

"Well, little brother. I guess they'll let us on the field at last," Teresa says, trying not to sound nervous. Seven women remaining from the half, plus our two catchers from reserve, equals nine. Against their eleven. With one reserve still in reserve.

"Okay," I say, after they've gotten their mugs for the half -- we couldn't afford much brew this game, so they're sipping it carefully. "Anyone cold?" No one is wearing their furs.

"How is this even possible?" Aeta asks, amazed.

"Snow is insulating," I reply. "And the vapor up in the sky actually gives off massive amounts of heat, twice, in order to freeze. Between that and all the exertions going on, by the players and the fans..." Blank looks. "We're up north near the chaos hole of terror," I continue. "Nature doesn't work right here." They nod, accepting that; I have to admit it sounds the much more plausible explanation. Not that my tutor ever accepted it usually.

"They're all here for you-all," Marbet tells the women. "You know that right? Or even if not for you, they're here for the game. Not for the Nurgles." True enough; any Nurgle team has a difficult time gaining any fan support, for obvious reasons, and the Eruptor team is fairly new. "Their cheers... people fear disease," Marbet continues. "You're fighting what they can't fight -- what those... those traitors to all life decided to join instead of fighting against!"

Nine against their twelve. But our women look ready, largely thanks to Marbet Mavenwood.

"Wherever they kick the ball," I instruct, "whoever gets the ball, run up to the line and let them form around you. You-all brilliantly shut them down last half; if we can get a score, you have a good chance to do the same thing this half!" Nine against their twelve. "The goatman who likes to get the ball, he doesn't want to run: he wants to throw. But he can't! -- not in this snow! So they'll strip the line again to protect him. If that happens and we're ahead, never mind, just hold the line until he gets desperate enough to try a run." I didn't say that if that happened they might not be able to break into his cage.

Nine -- against eleven and one in reserve.

I put my three best blockers up front, even though one is a catcher, and set my remaining women in a wide net backfield waiting for the ball, with a thrower and catcher farthest back.

Now we hope.

[Gamenote: "brilliant coaching" gives us an extra reroll this half, by the way. Oigme's "leader" ability only works the first half, unless we splurge on halfling chefs for some inscrutable reason.]

The ball lands smack center and it's time to cage up.

We form up the initial cage so quickly the opposing team hasn't even had time to decide how to charge for the ball!

Teresa, our more experienced catcher who has also become an elite blocker, is helping hold the line on the left. Hearing the calls of the women behind, she ducks her marking lineman and flips over the nurgle-snail's tentacles to run back to help form the top of the cage; Oigme runs back as well, while the landsquid is distracted in flailing at the escaping catcher!

"See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!" taunts Akantha the Seducer as she also springs to escape.

But she turns leftward, naturally, to run. And so runs straight into the tentacles lashing in frustration back through where Oigme used to be.

Marbet gasps beside me, shivering.

Akantha has stiffened in shock, muscles quivering as the tentacles slide along her --

"What is it doing?!" I hiss, appalled.

"They... seize their prey that way. It could be worse," she quietly moans in sympathy for Akantha. "Regulations require the beasts to have certain... glands removed... but only some of them.

"others remain"

Akantha is rapidly, shallowly gasping; unable to move; tears rolling down her face in horror.

"The other glands paralyze their prey. In various ways." Marbet retches a little.

I cannot blink. I cannot look away as time seems to freeze. "... does ... it ..."

"hurt? No..." Marbet sobs. "It doesn't.

"A week or so before I quit, a... coach... tested a beast... he thought it was funny. They all did. The goatmen especially -- "

"I swear on my life -- Marbet, why are you even here?!" The Nurgle team is laughing as the other women pause unable to collect their wits in shock to make a choice of what to do. Akantha is keening. The crowd is --- more appreciative of the Eruptors now. Calling out the worst imaginable jokes.

"They meant to do this. The women I mean. I tried to warn them." I don't know who is talking, Marbet or I or both to each other. "You don't have to be here," I try to say; Akantha slumps to one knee, spent.

"I have to help your friends, your sisters... get through this... defeat it... survive it!" Marbet wails. "Survive it, Akantha! I know you can do it! Don't let it win!"

The Beast of Nurgle relaxes, instinctively pulling its tentacles back in order to make more room for biting its prey without hurting itself...

Akantha chuffs air, hardly, once; then stands up, wobbling a little, and tells the Beast, "You're done already!? HAH!!"

That takes some of the mockery out of the enemy! "Try that again, whenever you want! Better you than any of them!" She slings her arm in disdain. "Believe me I've had worse! AND I SURVIVED!!"

Her teammates cheer, as does the crowd, as Akantha the Seducer stretches luxuriously.

-- the lineman across from her lunges --

-- she meets his lunge --

-- and lets him push her back away from the Beast.

"You're no fun," she retorts, insanely. "Go back home and let me have my way with your pet over --- "

-- a goatman tries to blitz her.

She still hasn't recovered yet, not enough to counterpunch, but she stays on her feet.

"Better!" she tells him. "If only you weren't dripping with disease, I could use you! Too bad your snail is cleaner than any of you!!"

Then her eyes roll back in her head and she falls to the ground, unconscious, utterly spent.

The Eruptors have taken this time to carefully march up toward our cage; between the various threats, and their concern and admiration for Akantha, the women don't know where to run together.

Marbet is waving off the goblin couriers, who hesitate on the sideline whether or not they should go fetch Akantha. "She'll be all right," she explains, to me. "She just has to... recover. They might kick her while she's down, but they haven't seemed the kicking type so far..."

"I am so, so sorry," I say, watching the enemy slowly enclosing our girls. "You shouldn't have to see this. You shouldn't have to be here. I... i should have run away, long ago, so-that-they'd-give-this-up-and..."

"RIGHT FIELD PUSH, SISTERS!" Oigme shouts. "They're in range now, GO!!!"

The women had been luring the enemy in, so that they themselves could strike with greatest force and efficient effort!

Various goatmen, leering at their prey, find their smiles smashed to the ground -- and suddenly most of the women are running rightward, trying to arc around the nurglebeast and its dully astonished lineman!

"Go on sisters!" Oigme orders as she and Tereis, her sister from the farm, stand alone to guard against nearly two thousand pounds of disease and looming armor.

But no! -- the Eruptors, enraged at the loss of their victims, surge ahead as well, knocking several women down, including Oigme!

A goatman charges up and strikes Athtar who has the ball in the back!

She isn't hurt -- she twists, sensing the blow at the final moment, staying on her feet even --

but the cursed ball leaps free.

Several players scramble for it, as it dances in victory at its escape along the ground, including the Beast itself and several linemen.

Tereis Antandre flips out of reach of a Nurgle lineman and scampers for the ball as well...

But just as she grabs it in triumph, one of the nearby rotters in between her and the squid gives her a punch and she drops the ball -- which happily scoots between the squid and a bunch of Nurgle linemen.

At least all the women are on their feet again, if somewhat woozily.

The former farmgirl tries again, lifting the ball and shouting, "You're the worst chicken I ever tried to -- !!"

-- and spasms --

-- the tentacles, having rested, now are paralyzing her, too, from behind.

She cannot run away.

Unseeing, unable even to care, she drops the ball again and, shuddering, submits, sinking into a puddle on the ground. Where she shakes intermittently.

I can hear Marbet and Akantha, distantly and nearby, rasping their anger and despair, as the other women pause in horror again.

One of the Nurgle linemen lumbers over and picks up the ball, dismissively walking away as several teammates form his cage.

Akantha the Reducer heaves herself in flips and leaps to strike at the tender tentacles, which zip away to safety behind the head of the Beast -- and then with spinning kicks -- one -- four -- six in a row, she by herself drives the thing to retreat a little despite its mass.

"You want to inflict those... kisses on someone!? Here I am! Not her! I can take it!"

"I swear," I tell Marbet as she weeps in frustration next to me, "if any of those things ever gets near you... they won't. Not even near. I don't care if I'm executed by the League. I don't care if they make me feel like I'm dying for thousands of years. Never." The hell of it was, I knew that out in the wild... this would be so much worse... I knew what a Beast of Nurgle could really do. This was only a nightmarish echo.

My father had taught me, having fought them before, himself, during an outbreak. Having seen the remains of what they could do to horses, cows, villagers caught by surprise and unable to get away.

The women are too spread out to stop the carrier and his cage.

Two get in front of them anyway: Oigme and Lykopis. The goblins weave across the field, bringing Tereis Antandre to the infirmary on the sideline; Marbet lets them this time.

Oigme and Lykopis both are simply too exhausted to resist being pushed down and aside aside by the Nurgle linemen 'caging' the ball, leaving the lineman with the ball to alter his path in some confusion and then to stomp more centerfield with a goatman approaching to lend support. The only good news is that a multi-team attack on Alkidike Synope ends with the lineman down instead! -- the woman shrieks revenge against them for hurting her sister earlier. Still, they'll stand up. She just can't hurt them enough.

"How are they even possibly going to stop this!?" I mutter, and try to guide Marbet away from the goal-line as the enemy approaches.

"No." She plants her feet and refuses to budge. "I'm staying here. Let them come. I know... they cannot hurt me." Technically, she believes they won't be allowed. I see she needs to do this, and we stand together watching their approach.

"DON'T YOU DARE!" Akantha the Reducer shouts across the field to her teammates, "DON'T YOU EVEN DARE," she cannot dare herself to try to run away and so be caught by the tentacles again, "LET THOSE THINGS GET NEAR OUR LITTLE SISTER!!"

No less than three women escape their marking enemies and catch the lineman in time to try to make a difference. But can they?

He tries to escape leftward and gets sidekicked, popping the ball free in the middle of the girls!

"SURVIVE HARDER!!" various women yell in something like triumph!

Marbet sighs in relief. "I had to stay. I had to stay.

"But I'm glad I didn't have to stay," she says as both teams ponder what the hell they ought to do now and how to do it.

"I'm glad you tried to take me away," she adds, smiling a ghost of a smile. "I'm glad you stayed with me, too.

"I accept your promise. I know you can keep it. I know you will."

Lykopis the Huntress is as good a woman as any nearby to try picking up the ball --

-- but she fumbles it as it wrenches from her hands!

-- Aete Alcinoe our more experienced catcher can catch it...

And she does! Whew!

Unfortunately, she gets too worried about the goatman up north and refuses to move until he's knocked down. [Gamenote: I forgot she really ought to move at least somewhat up the right side of the field before switching to another player. siggghhhhh...]

"Aete!" Lykopis howls, "You fool! We only have a minute or so remaining!" Aeta's jaw drops in realization of what her overcaution has cost us: any chance of scoring. The women do their best to set up some loose protection for her anyway.


one of the linemen miraculously finds a path around our defenders,

speeding up for a blitz on the self-recriminating Aete --

-- with support from the lineman who had been sidekicked to drop the ball --

-- she has no hope -- -- the blizing lineman is actually slung by his fellow as she turns in shock to see the slaughter coming --

With perfect precision, Aeta braces herself in line with the charge AND PUNCHES HIM WITH THE BALL!! -- right at the very center of gravity!

With a soggy oof, the cretinous traitor splorches to the ground.

"You want it back?" Aeta sniffs, handing the ball to the shocked Nurgle lineman who had been carrying it before.

He blinks stupidly, and in fear.

And refuses.

"Good choice," Aeta nods, as the other women laugh; and then she's running for daylight.

It won't be enough to win. But it might be enough not to lose.

After some risky maneuvering, the women build a little cage around Aete. At least she's farther away from THEM being able to score.

The Nurgle coach is screaming literal curses at his infected troops, as the women warily watch for chances to move even farther safely downfield.

One lineman, in distress, turns from where he has been... distracted... by Akantha the Seducer teasing the frustrated tentacle beast, which (being really stupid) wants to seize her again but can't quite figure out how to get past her defenses.

The lineman lowers himself to start a blitz toward Aeta --

-- and is snapkicked by Akantha the Reducer in the joint of his knee.

Which pops like an overripe fruit.

"Now," Akantha purrs, turning back as the tentacles strike while maybe she's defenseless...!

She casually swats them away. "Where were we?" The thing squeals.

The goblins rush in to carry the lineman off. Our first and last casualty caused this game; Akantha's sisters-in-arms cheer but exhaustedly.

Another lineman from center right field was able to get close enough to prevent much easy running, at least without a handoff first...

Sadly, the ball squirts free during the handoff despite a heroic effort by Aeta to place it firmly, leaving minor gashes on her arms from the spikes infesting the ball.

Under the impetus of the curses on their already-damned souls, several Eruptors surge for the ball, bellowing in pain and desperation, knocking down several women who just don't have the strength anymore to stand.

One lineman jostles Akantha as he rushes by --

-- and stumbling, she cannot avoid the tentacles this time.

They take her down. And leave her there, unable to do much more.

Lykopis the Huntress stands alone remaining near the ball; a lineman tries to take it.

She slashes him with a sidekick, sending him into the snow.

And that's the game. The goblin referee blows the signal.

The women collect Akantha where she shivers in the slush. I can't tell if she has been weeping as I run out onto the field with Marbet to give her my cloak and Marbet's wrap and anything we can find to... un-expose her.

"'sokay," she whispers with haunted eyes, "I'll be okay." She reaches a hand to trace what feels like a tear on my cheek.

"I've had worse. Much, much worse.

"And I survived."

A tie against rotting demonic hulks. We'll take it. We have to.

The Eruptors choose us as their visiting team in the final day of the pool.

And now, for the worst of reasons...

...they have fans of their own.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Finished writing up Game 3 last night; and went back today to spot-edit some stylistic gaffes in Game 2: I try to compose the non-game narrative in standard narrative past-tense, and the game-narrative in present tense, but I don't always get my transitions right (and sometimes in adding material I'll forget and default back to standard narrative past-tense). I noticed I needed to fix some things of that sort, so good -- that's done before posting Game 3.

Anyway. Game 3 should be on-thread later this afternoon or tonight.

Revenge! Tentacles! Tentacle revenge! Halfling vengeance! The Lightning-Father strikes! -- twice! The Mother-Wolf strikes! -- once! More than seven outright deaths!! Less than seven outright marriages!! Unless I'm bluffing somehow!!

ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 3: Pregame

"The Beast must die."

We had fought the Aukrug Eruptors to a tie a week ago; the women had mostly recovered. The Nurgle team, however, having been assigned the first home-team slot for the final day of the pre-finals pool, had chosen us for an immediate rematch. Now the team was gathering for a strategy meeting

"That... is indeed one strategy," I allowed in answer to the Reducer. This would be delicate. Marbet Mavenwood and I had quietly and carefully discussed together how to proceed. "I greatly admire you all for not just quitting! And I won't mind in the least, if you kill that wretched thing. I promise."

"But," Oigme Antandre flatly continued -- that was a statement challenging what she heard behind my words.

"But right this moment the Nurgle priest is betting you will treat that beast as something more than just a larger player on the field.

"He's also no doubt threatening that goatman with a final dissolution, if he doesn't ball up and stop cowering in their backfield," I added to take the sting away from my criticism. "Just how many armored hulks does a goatman need to protect himself from puny human women, huh!" I raspingly mocked, miming some slaps to a goatman's face.

That, unfortunately, didn't get any laughter or jokes at the goatman's expense.

"You weren't out there," said Tereis. Damn.

"No, he wasn't," Marbet countered on cue. "But I've been where you were. And I didn't have the training, much less permission, to hit them back. I had to take it as much as they wanted. For their fun.

"And I'm saying Emcey is right." The other women looked ashamed, astonished, and surly, all at once. "That... thing... it can kill you by biting, and by its digging claws, and it will if it gets too out of hand. But its tentacles? Those are only annoying. Not that you should just let it seize you for the fun of it. But, it can't really hurt you that way. You know it doesn't even... hurt."

"And you ought to know, that isn't the problem," growled Tereis in reply.

"I know. The problem is what it forces you to feel. Somewhat by accident -- it doesn't really know what kind of effect it has on unprotected human flesh. It's only instinctively paralyzing its prey." Marbet looked back to me, passing the cue.

"In the wild, those tentacles don't just paralyze their prey, but start to pre-digest it, too, as part of keeping the prey from effectively escaping. I never had to fight a Nurgle outbreak, but my father did, twice, in his career. He saw firsthand what a chosen beast brought into the world by Nurgle priests can do.

"Knowledge is power. The more you know about what's happening, and about what could be happening but not, the better opportunity you'll have to fight and beat it.

"So. Each of those tendrils has sensitive nerving, allowing the creature to see while digging or otherwise underground. The muscular structure, and various secretions, and different kinds of electrical discharges -- these all combine to confuse and drug the body and nervous system of its target. With some of those glands removed, the effect is restricted to keeping its target from running away by various means -- nothing more. Nor is it going to bite you while you're tangled in it; it really thinks, or rather expects instinctively, that you'll be crippled by various acids as well as drugged and in a state of shock, so that it can bite down on you afterward. Instead, you can recover and then be ready to fight it again. The tentacles themselves are strong enough to stop even armored foes from escaping, but on bare human skin, with all the actually harmful glands deactivated..." I didn't want to talk about what happened then. I didn't know what to say or how to say it.

"Hey -- if it wasn't for knowing just what was causing the flush, I'd be all for it!" My heart broke a little, hearing Akantha finally getting what ought to be said and done.

"Exactly," Marbet nodded, and my heart broke even more. "Consciously and instinctively both, our minds cannot... reconcile what's happening, with what we know to be the cause. Making it..." and she shook her head, unable to finish.

"So," I cleared my throat. "Keep all that in mind, and also that the tentacles really only serve one purpose aside from allowing the beast to see: to keep its prey from running away or attacking it! And even then, it dares not use them directly to fight, but only to stop an attack by surprise before it starts.

"The keys, then, are not to be surprised; and not to run away, if at all possible."

"And also to kill it dead for daring to do that to us." Akantha's addition denied dispute.

"If you aren't playing to win, then you might as well quit right now and not even bother showing up!!" The other women blinked in astonishment, caught in surprise while nodding in agreement with Akantha -- for I hadn't said that, Marbet had.

"You listen to what Emcey is saying," she growled. "If you concentrate too much on that beast, sure, maybe you injure or kill it. Eventually. But those other hulking piles of disease will be hitting you from behind and otherwise running the ball into our goal line! Where I'll be standing, for them to mock and waft their noxious fumes at me!!"

"Nurgle fights by trying to goad its enemies into several kinds of revolted reactions. Nausea," I said, "or irrational hatred, either one. Their coach will make use of those tendrils, too, for the very same general purpose. If he can get you to react to him the way he wants, he's probably going to win.

"You --- must --- DENY HIS STRATEGY!

"This is not optional. Not if you intend to go out and fight against him."

I wasn't entirely sure that they accepted that. But they tried.

"What else do we know?" I changed the subject. "With only nine or even sometimes seven women against all eleven of them, you still held them to a tie -- and even came dangerously close to pulling a last-minute win!

"Some of that was because of the cowardly goatman taking several of his teammates out of the fight. We can't expect the coach to let that happen again.

"So you must stay protectively cautious of one another, and make sure to team up together to kick them down as much as possible. Even put them out of the game."

"Business as usual then, in other words," said Alkidike. Her sister, the other Akantha, wouldn't be back this game, and would always now be slowed a little. Alkidike would surely be ready for some revenge! -- but she spoke with rational confidence, not in seething. Good.

"Very much, yes," I agreed. "But if you see why, you'll be better able to put that together with plans you develop on the field."

"Can we sign another blitzer?" Anazmache asked. Her taverngirl friend, Andromeda, would be back to help this game, and they had been training our last two remaining followers for that position, since the League would allow us to hire four such.

"No; I'm sorry, we just don't have enough money." I looked to Marbet our manager, who added, "It's true, I'm sorry," in confirmation. "A good idea, though. We do have enough to sign another linewoman," she allowed, "and I have some leads on potential members for such posts, but right now I think it's better to save up as much as we can, to finish hiring out our specialist starters, since they're already here and working with us."

"So that's next, but later," I said. "A lot of that money will go toward hiring a temporary extra apothecary for this game. I don't think anyone here will complain about that?" They certainly didn't.

"What else? Well, the goatmen think they're on par with you, and certainly they're the closest -- although they're wrong!" That finally earned some smiles. "You can usually still dodge past them. And even though Nurgle linemen and 'rotters' drastically outsize you, they're even easier to get past. And you know how to use their armor against them, so even if they're hard nuts to crack... Oh come on, Akantha, I set you up for that perfectly!" More laughter, although I wasn't kidding about being worried about her attitude. She grimaced in amusement, but was clearly having trouble getting back into a positive mood. I couldn't blame her.

"We learned their linemen may be fumblier than their goatmen, but not by much -- I guess their stickiness helps them hold that cursed ball a little better than other linemen, huh." More humorous groans and gags. "We didn't see any throwing or catching, but that might have been due to the snowstorm going on all game -- the coach looked like he was trying to set up a passing game several times, especially in the first half. And though their main passer was only a scaredy-goat, he did get a little bit desperate toward the end of the game, which almost got them a score."

"So, if we really want to kill something..." Anazmache concluded.

"Kill the goatmen. Baaaaadly."
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 3: Part 1 of 2

Oddly for this time of year, the snow has started up again at the Norsen village-field.

I put one of my more experienced linewomen, Zerynthia, in reserve, and bring out both catchers (on the far wings) and both throwers (in the backfield), leaving the rest of the Wall made up of linewomen.

Due to some confusion about the formations involved, Zerynth ends up being put on the field after all, but the goblin directs her to stand behind Athtar who is kicking. This distracts Athtar and she bumbles the kick, not even crossing the center line. Marbet suspects some kind of bribery interference.

[Gamenote: probably more like the game engine being insane about how initial formations work, due to part of the code thinking Akantha Synope is out on the field, and another part of the code realizing she isn't because she's still on medical leave.]

The Nurgles meander around their backfield a lot, and try a few attacks which don't go anywhere, finally losing momentum when the Reducer counterpunches an attacker and they both go down -- but Akantha hops right back up, ready to fight again.

[Gamenote: for this game I finally learned I could turn on player's names, and also how to temporarily darken the dice-result tracking, although I won't usually do that for screenies. This will be my format through the end of Season Two, and into Season Three so far -- it does clutter the screenshots a bit, but it sure helps me to keep track of who's doing what or had what happen! Maybe it'll help readers, too, I hope. In the previous screenshot, the Nurgle coach hadn't yet lined up his players in formation, but here he has: that's why various players of his, especially the Nurglebeast, seem to have teleported randomly around.]

Zerynth runs hard to try to get back in range of the action soon, and I realize maybe the bribery confusion worked to our advantage after all: no one is near the tentacle thing, which she would have been! -- and the beast was far too stupid to try to move a minute ago! Soon it's blocked from advancing by one of its own stunned teammate; and gangs of women are throwing down various linemen.

As the Nurgles recover, the tentacle thing slithers forward and punches down Agamede with its blocky head, which somehow opens a path for a goatman to run through into our backfield -- and worse, he has the ball! This is a problem; but although a fellow goat-wingman follows, another goat tries too hard to catch up and slips on the snow.

The ball carrier pauses a moment in confusion at his teammate's hooves sliding out from under him, and the bestial creature can't help but laugh at his own fellow's misfortune -- giving Akantha, Zerynth and Athtar time to swarm the goatballer, kicking him down despite his support and knocking the ball from his hand! Whew.

A few other women move around and hurt some Nurgles, but Teresa and Anazmache risk an escape from near the tentacles of the snail... and fail.

Teresa falls to a knee but stays conscious as she fights the horrid effects. Anazmache thrashes in rejection and revulsion, and the creature sends all its tentacles to pacify her. She arches her back in spasms, and then unable to take the strain any farther, collapses in a pile. "you... wretch..." Teresa weakly spits, but cannot yet do more.

Seeing Anazmache still twitching uncontrollably, Marbet signals the waiting goblin couriers to run her safely off-field.

As the creature feels around for its missing victim, it actually finds the ball and tries to pick it up! -- but, whether from inexperience or a lack of any understanding about what it feels, it fails to keep the cursed ball from squiggling free again.

Nurgle does a decent job in protecting access to the ball and marking our players.

Though the women also can't pick up the ball, they manage to move a little more into support of each other and closer to the ball -- the lines had been rather fractured by the force of the Nurgle advance.

As the Nurgles move closer to grabbing the ball themselves, Teresa Thermodosa, our original catcher, heavily outnumbered and recovering from the tentacle assault, defends herself with honor against supported attacks by the snail and a blitzing lineman.

Eventually she falls, but in doing so she still knocks the ball into a slightly better position for us! Though she cannot yet stand, Marbet waves off the goblins, expecting the woman will soon recover.

"So. You think that's funny," Alkidike tells a lineman nastily chuckling near her and Aete.

Seeing their expressions... he straight up tries to run away -- and gets tripped by a girl for his trouble!

Despite some fairly brilliant playing, removing several problems temporarily near the ball, Lykopis the Huntress, one of our throwers, fails to pick it up -- but the nearby goatman, who lost the ball originally, snags it midair as it flops and flutters by! Great. At least we now have a catcher somewhere downfield to possibly work with, through frankly I should have demanded she come back south to lend defensive aid to her sisters.

As Nurgle tries to clear a path, a knocked down goatman not only stands up but somehow even blitzes! -- and Agamede Aina pays the price, quickly whisked off field by capable goblins.

Our bony apothecary manages to save her from a fractured skull, or any long term damage, but she'll be out of the game entirely.

With the snail's back turned, Zerynthia mistakenly thinks she may be able to help drag Teresa a little downfield away from having to suffer its tendrils again... but Zerynthia has forgotten the other primary reason for their existence.

They see her try. And stop her.

The snail seems confused by how to interpret the two convulsing women in a pile, and so tosses them away, Zerynthia completely out of bounds, in order to concentrate on more obvious threats nearby.

"Lords help them," I quietly pray, as Marbet signals the goblins to go ahead and bring them to the infirmary safely while the referee marks them out for the rest of the --


What the hell.

What in the actual HELL!?

A goatman from the Nurgle reserve has joined several newly baptized and inducted Nurgle fans, in kicking the women while they lay unable to defend themselves!


I don't remember much of what happens next. Marbet and the women later tell each other, embarrassing me in their awe and delight, that they suddenly heard and saw a shining figure shooting down the side of the field with a sword as the snow crashed in thunder -- and just that quickly, Nurgle's new devotees were gone into the demon's embrace. In multiple pieces. As a goatman screamed in fear and scrambled back to the safety of its dugout.

What I remember is seeing terrified goblin couriers, and trying to reassure them they could carry Zerynth to safety so long as I stood nearby. And sharing poisonous glares with the referee. While cheers of rage and approbation echo back and forth among the stands. Teresa, half-awakened by the kicks, is vainly trying to wave away the couriers and recover. "I... help... they..."

"She," I say, pointing at Teresa, "stays on the field." The squinting goblin 'accidentally' kicks the woman more completely back in bounds as it runs away.

The girls are still flagged out until the next kickoff, but the apothecary says she thinks that Agamede, by some miracle, will also be back! I later learn the girls all think this happened when, in righteous fury, I passed her in the infirmary.

[Gamenote: honestly, I have no idea. Gamebug or something, triggered by the fan-stomping protocol. Similarly, Teresa got stomped in the sequence even though strictly speaking she wasn't off the field, and can soon be seen still on the field though temporarily 'down'. Still, hey, mix it into the plot!]

Until then, we have only eight players on the field, some who are only able to stand and shake off their hits. It doesn't look good. Mainly we need to gather the women together in a reinforcing defense so far as possible and keep that goatman nailed in place.

This plan partly succeeds; the Seducer is caught by a very lucky blow and tripped -- not by the Beast thank gods -- while trying to make some final moves for support before a blitz.

Nurgle keeps on knocking women off the field.

And then Lykopis is... glanded... into a coma by the Beast -- we dare not use our final apothecary on her, but hopefully the spices she was drinking from the keg will help recover her, by the time the next kickoff happens.

Before the goblins can wend their way through the thick of the fight to cart her off, a goatman snarling hatred tries to force its way through its fellows to kick her. Or maybe something worse.

Teresa Thermodosa, however, has finally overcome the nightmarish tendril effects -- and strikes so swiftly between and through that mindcrushing forest that's guarding the back of the snail, 'watching' for her to be weak again, she FLIPS THE GOATMAN BACK OVER ITSELF AND ONTO ITS OWN NECK!

A goatman of theirs, off-field and out of the game!

[Gamenote: Teresa is a mostly off camera top-center, behind the Beast. The goatman Ra tried to move away from her diagonal tackle zone.]

With a couple of risky runs and flips, the girls tuck in as well as they can -- Teresa still cannot escape the caress of those terrible tentacles once again, but the snail is having trouble focusing on guarding its rear like this, or possibly it has used that attack too often and needs to recharge some bioelectrics and glandular chemicals. Or, maybe she's developing some resistance through exposure. Whatever the explanations, she remains unhurt.

"Is that... all you can do now?" she cries in defiance, and THROWS the horrid appendages away.

In reply, and in frustration, the snail flips around more quickly than anyone could expect and fully seizes the woman who shivers and screams and finally falls unconscious.

Once again it throws her out of bounds.

And Nurgle fans do not learn their lessons well.

This time, I remember what happens.

What happens, is that Marbet Mavenwood beats me to the fans.

The goat-thing was bringing a couple of rotters to help support it this time. They see Marbet coming and flee. The Nurgle fans are too... focused on what they are trying to do.

They do not get to run away.

I let the goblins carry Teresa off this time. She cannot resist their uncaring care. I eye the Beast -- and then take Marbet back to our goal-line station. If we try to do anything to a player, we ourselves may be slain by the League. Regardless of whether it's right or wrong; the rules do have to be followed, and examples set for the chaotic and murderous things to accept and fear.

This doesn't improve our chances any. But still the remaining women stand their ground, boxing in the runner though I think he hands off the ball to someone else nearby.

All we can really do is shuffle our line around a little to box the newer goatman ball-er just a minute longer -- though Aete in a blitz knocks out another nurgle rotter!

Grasa the goatman runs for daylight, once a lineman gets out of his way, by butting Aete backward with his horns; but he has no hope of getting to the goal before time runs out for the half.

The coach gives his team some practice in forming a cage up anyway -- leaving the snail to the mercy of many, many sisters.

In eager confusion at so much vulnerable prey, it doesn't know what to do or where to strike.

Then, it learns true fear.


Its own teammates must save their nasty mascot from being spread across the field in a pool of blood and teeth and slime.

Then the goblin whistles the code for halftime.

The Nurgle coach descends into a tantrum at being unable once again to get past us and score. The Nurgle players drag their writhing mascot slug, by its tail, off the field.

Our knocked out women, awakened by the triumphant roars of hate from their sisters, join the others forbidden until now from returning to the field.

"Okay," I agree as we gather together near the pallets -- the women on the team telling each other all that happened.

"Okay," I tell Marbet, until I can get their attention. "I agree.

"The Beast must die."
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 3: Halftime

"I'm sorry," I told the women during the half time break. "I am so sorry. You were right. The Beast -- "

" -- is only a nuisance," Teresa Thermodosa raised her hand in interruption. I stared in blank astonishment: of all the women today she had most suffered its... its...

"Our Lightning Father was right," Teresa continued. Anazmache didn't look as though she entirely agreed, but grimly nodded, as did the others. "It's horrible. For what it is and for what it seems to be. But it's only a nuisance.

"We're stronger than that. Our little team-father taught us better than to let our emotions dictate our strategy." I put my head in my hand, flushing in embarrassment at hearing this tacit rebuke; from her of all people. But, they didn't seem to be rebuking my weakness.

They were growing stronger.

"Those things just threw up all over us!" Akantha the Reducer crowed. "And we survived. And we're coming back! And some of them won't!!"

"You didn't fail us, little father-wolf," Oigme said in warm affection. "So stop it. Now.

"We made that thing afraid of us. And rightly so.

"If it comes back at all, I DEMAND to stand directly in front and keep it distracted! Let it be ME this time!"

"And me!" shouted Alkidike. "I've only been punched around by goats and rotting hulks so far! I want my turn with those legwarmers!"

The Reducer was laughing outright at this, and giving the women tips. From long experience she said. They women just about choked on their Bloodweiser mugs while laughing in shocked agreement and acceptance.

"I... I..." I couldn't form words.

"I've never seen anything like this. That's what you're trying to say, I think." That's what Marbet said to me, casually flaking off bits of blood and flesh from her elegant warming furs. She hadn't even had a weapon.

Then she snuggled up beside me, and sat me down on a bench, and handed me a brew to clear my head: "Here, little Lightning Father." I sipped the drink in shock. Very stimulating; but every time I thought it was clearing my head, I would see our women preparing to go fight disease-ridden demons -- and they were laughing and chanting and singing together. "They shouldn't see their little-father crying," Marbet said, sipping her own smaller cup. "Bad for morale. Wait, they see you -- !"

And then she nipped me on the ear!

The women just about belched out their lungs in laughing at that, and at my yelp and shock on my face no doubt.

"There, isn't that better than crying?" she whispered as she snuggled back to me again on the bench in much satisfaction. "Ooooh, mama-wolf and papa-wolf, I rather like that!"

"Women," I rasped in unbelief and admiration, "apparently all are insane."

Marbet Mavenwood leaped to her feet and shouted, "WOMEN ARE MORE THAN SANE! WE HAVE TO BE, IN ORDER TO SURVIVE!!"

All the women trotted back onto the field at that, chanting, "HARDER! HARDER! HARDER!!"

I tried to stand up, dazed, to stumble over to our goal-line place, but Marbet pushed me back down, and sat again to snuggle up and growl, "Ik! Good boy. Stay. Watch, while we can. We'll have a better view for one more minute."

The women lined up in supporting pairs across the line, Oigme and Alkidike standing where they had demanded to stand, waiting for the wormy horror -- all of them pointing at the foe and shouting, "HARDER HARDER HARDER!!"

I had to agree with Marbet, and settled back to relax a bit and enjoy the view.

The expressions on the Nurgle team, and on their coach, were priceless. Literally indescribable. The women were laughing now in pure defiance.

As the linemen, and rotters, and goatmen, cautiously stepped out onto the pitch, the Beast shuffled forward in trepidation, then paused and whined and shook.

"AWWW!" "BUT WE WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU, LITTLE BEASTY!" "I WANT MY TURN WITH YOU!!" The other Nurgle team members clearly couldn't decide if they should chuckle at that or not. The priest and his acolytes beat and shoved the creature onto the field.

It tried to turn around and go back. But its masters wouldn't let it.

"Wow. I feel a bit sorry for it," Marbet murmured. "Okay, over that now." She stood up. "Let's go, time to go little lightning-father. That's right. Do you know how many fans you killed?"

"uh... what...?"

"Seven," she answered herself in an amazing amount of satisfaction. "All I did was provide a distraction, really. You did the work. But I could charge them knowing you were right behind and would punish those... traitors..." she gritted, "as they rightly deserved. I was honestly worried you'd get yourself killed, trying next to attack the Beast, fulfilling your vow to me." She patted my shoulder, more than sane, and more than a little bit frightening. "But listen: try to resist destroying them next time. Even if they kill one of... one of our girls."


"You listen to me," she hissed, and tears were trickling down her face as we turned the corner into our area behind the Amazon goal-line. "The League officials don't like fans getting killed. They're lenient to new coaches, and to very popular coaches, for much the same reason. A woman may die if she's thrown down out of bounds; the spectators feel that they have the right to attack a player, and we get to do the same if we want, at no penalty mostly. That's one of the unwritten... allowances. But you will surely be killed if you insist on killing fans. Just like a player would be."

"But -- "

"I forbid it," she declared. "I forbid you to die. The other women need their Lightning Father. I'll make sure they understand the problems. They'll accept what I say. I'm their little wolf-mother now.

"And I refuse to lose you.

"If you die... I don't know what I would do." She was shaking and shivering under her furs. "Nothing good. So I forbid you to die. I have spoken."

As she stopped speaking, and as I gauged the setup along the line -- which I didn't much like, but thought I might break the surge of morale if I said anything -- I returned; "Nothing you said forbids me from beating the utter and absolute hell out of anyone trying to hurt them off the field."

"Of course not. Duh. Just, y'know, don't kill anyone.

"Making them wish they were dead is completely different."
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 3: Part 2 of 2

The goatman kicks but the snow has stopped, and in the perfect weather the ball takes one extra bounce out of bounds. The goblin asks whom I want to receive the ball, and tosses it thus to Lykopis who needs some experience. Zerynthia has positioned herself far back, with the two throwers, in order to help form a protective cage around whoever gets the ball as soon as possible -- but she was caught in place while talking to Athtar, and so wasn't allowed to move to the center between them when the referee declared the players set for kickoff.

The women quickly go to work, creating a fairly sizeable cage for Lykopis, and even kicking the snail around!

Although this works reasonably well, the snail itself blitzes Oigme, stunning her to the ground for a while -- with its mass alone, no tentacles -- and helping build a sizeable threat near Lykopis as other Nurgles press in.

In a carefully orchestrated series of somewhat risky attacks, the right wing of our cage progressively plants or pushes back its assailants -- the Reducer even knocks a lineman out of the game, at least until the next kickoff! The left wing doesn't fare quite as well, but does okay. Finally Lykopis hands off to Aete, securing the ball a little bit more for now.

A goatman blitz fails to do more than push Alkidike aside, but the Beast of Nurgle knocks down Lykopis, somewhat as expected.

With three women down, and Teresa Thermodosa stunned, there won't be much offensive action this time. But two can stand to their feet.

Alkidike, Akantha, and Zeryth clear a path for Aete to try to blitz to freedom -- which almost works, but the final rotter in her path completely lucks out and not only dodges Zeryth's double-team kick but counterpunches Aete knocking her down to the ground and spurting free the ball. Dang. She's rather badly stunned, too, although she doesn't have to leave the field. Worse, the rotter by some continuing miracle catches the ball and keeps it!

A goatman runs over to help provide some protection for his nurglemate -- but then the snail makes the mistake of going after Oigme again, who catches the tentacles in her grip and forces it into submission!!

"Ooooh, you're right, this IS fun!" she coos. "Good boy! Stay!"

With the snail currently unable to keep any women tangled in its clutches, the team begins a sterling set of knockdowns and pushbacks, culminating in Alkidike blitzing the rotter, knocking the ball from his hands (another Nurgle having been KOd along the way), picking up the ball, and running a little farther down the enemy's half of the pitch, joined by Anazmache and Zerynth to lend support!

This looks good! And not many Nurgles will even be able to do more than stagger up to their feet; all are either marked as well or must maneuver around and through some tackle zones to get to Alkidike.

The snail recovers but squacks in fear as Oigme, still nearby, raises a finger and declares, "Ik!" It quavers and refuses to budge.

"What does that even mean?" I ask. Marbet smirks.

A lineman (of all people) gets away from Agamede and marks Anazmache but can't quite get near Alkidike.

Then Akantha the Reducer reduces a goatman trying to get around in Alkidike's path.

The landsquid, hearing whistles from the acolytes, turns away from that-which-it-fears, keeping its tentacles warily between itself and Oigme, who also watches warily. Lykopis could be in trouble soon...!

They've bled hard for this chance... and survived harder! Oigme snags the tentacles, wrapping them around some bits of armor, and yanks the creature back from Lykopis' back!

As the nearby lineman stares at this in blank amazement, Agamede Aina flings herself upon him from the side --

-- crashing him down onto Oigme's vicious uppercut -- USING THE FIST THAT STILL IS GRIPPING THE NURGLE-BEAST! It screams in pain, twisted around away from Lykopis entirely.

The creature is literally gasping noxious clouds of fear as Oigme madly cackles.

"I think the girls might have been inspired by their Lightning Father at the half. Or rather before," Marbet says, more than sanely. "Good boy!"

[Gamenote: okay, yes, that shot took place a little earlier in the game. It's too awesome not to use in this narrative sequence though.]

Akantha the Reducer pushes back the rotter, clearing the way. Alkidike and her escort run for the end zone as the wretched Nurgle priest launches helpless curses in their direction. Amazingly, Alkidike stops short -- and starts to fan herself in the snow, patting her perspiration and stretching luxuriously, while studiously ignoring the ranting enemy coach.

The spectators go insane at this. "She's running out the clock!!" I explain to Marbet as she squints a bit suspiciously at my laughter. "BE CAREFUL LITTLE DAUGHTER!" I cheer across the field; dramatically she strikes a pose of wondering-what-to-do as the enemy coach is frothing at the mouth.

The Nurgles try their best to get some players nearby to mark the ball.

But Andromeda Dolope, free from risk of tackling, blitzes upfield to clear the single possible problem rotter out of the way. Alkidike decides not to press our luck and runs in for the score!

"They did that," Marbet whispers in awe. "I... even with all that happened I just can't believe it.

"But I know why. Why they were able.

"Because of you."

I snort and observe that I'm not the one out there who is kicking around unutterable and terrifying amounts of Nurgle ass, and so I get punched in the ribs. "You trained them. You taught them. You believed in them. You ASK THEM! But you won't, I know you won't, so I'm telling you for them. Thank you.

"I'm telling you for me, too. Thank you."

I cough and try to say, "The game isn't over yet," which is true, but a lot of frogs seem stuck in my throat. A Nurgle curse no doubt.

Two Nurgle players the girls knocked out, a goatman and a rotter, wake up at ferocious exertions from the furious priest and acolytes, but two more are still down and the injured player isn't going anywhere -- and Nurgle has no more reserves. Whomever we can put out of the game now, can't be replaced, and probably won't return before the end of the game: under no imaginable conditions can there be two more scores! Which is true of us, too, but it's nice to be on parity like this against a team which has been around long enough to buy up extra players.

This time Zerynthia goes up on the line to help with the defense. We still have a few minutes of gametime -- we can't slack off or the Nurgles might tie!

As Athtar kicks deep center...

-- various shouts from the fans rise to a fever pitch.

Marbet clutches me. "oh no..."

This is different. Something bad.

All the new Nurgle fans have clustered together AND ARE INVADING THE FIELD!!

Where do I go... who -- who do I protect...

"Here!" Marbet cries. "Stay here! THEY'RE COMING HERE, TOO!"

And just like that

everything is simple.

I think about Marbet.

The rest is easy.

I can see the women vainly fighting against both Nurgle fans and Nurgle players, as the enemy coach, far away, laughs and laughs and laughs.

I'm not laughing.

I'm coldly, precisely, cutting down every Nurgle initiate that DARES to approach us. Marbet is calmly calling incoming targets from behind. The fools have no idea what to do against a professional soldier. Soon, they have no more ideas at all.

I know for a fact: my father would be proud of me now.

"They die," I declare, slinging blood off my blade and walking onto the field. Marbet is trying to hold me back demanding, "I forbid it! I SAID I FORBID IT, MY HUSBAND!!"

That stops me. Just for a moment. So I can look her in the face. She's serious. And seriously afraid.

"What kind of husband would I be to let our daughters die." I don't even ask it. It isn't a question.

"No, look," she pleads as I turn to go. "Stop, please, LOOK!!"

I don't stop. But I do look, while searching for the nearest worthless Nurgle traitor to --

-- the nearest one is swept away.

And then another.

And then two more.

I pause in confusion. The roaring has steadily grown. Not lessened.

"Other people love our daughters, too!"

Fans of the Cavicorn Crushers are taking the field. Aiding the team they love. Not only humans. Lizardmen. Orcs. The halfling team and the trees have come! -- the hobbits admittedly aren't doing much, but they're giving the women some space and distractions...

"Please, get off the field, please, please, you have to let them go, please, do what I say this instant Emcey Stoneshield!!"

A groan beneath human hearing spreads the skies.

The snow flattens away, fleeing in fear.

"Noooooooooo...." Marbet is wordlessly wailing and flailing at me.

I understand. And I pick her up. And run.

For our lives.

The snow cushions our fall; I twist to cushion Marbet, and then roll to protect her as much as I can with armor that seems so worthless now --

The noise deepens, beyond bearing.

Blackness presses us down...

...but not pain.

My next coherent thought, sometime later, is that I'm not in pain.

Why not? How could that be?

My next coherent thought, rapidly less coherent, is that Marbet feels... right... curled up and breathing beneath me.

I sharply inhale. And raise myself up. And look around, wildly.

Fans are calmly, warily, taking their seats again. Some have gotten food and drink. They're... quiet.

In shock?

"Reminded," Marbet says. I scramble away, off her. She sighs, strangely spent. "They... have been reminded.

"They won't be killed. But they could be. Here. The League has power here."

"Killed. What about our girls!!?" I stumble to my feet, looking around.

"You're alive," Marbet is saying. "You're alive. You're alive..."

"So are you," I reply. Somehow I can feel her smile at hearing that. "So are... some of them..."

The goblin referee calmly is trotting around, placing players. He looks at me without even pausing, and smiles a knowing smile.

A smile that knows what power he serves. What power backs his authority.

I make a note to never disrespect the referee.

"They aren't dead," Lykopis says, having turned in our direction with what looks like a regular movement. "THEY AREN'T DEAD!" she yells downfield; the other standing women, warily watching the standing Nurgles warily watching them, slump with sighs, slightly, and acknowledge with waves -- but stand on guard.

"They aren't dead either," Lykopis adds, pointing at the fallen women along the field's right side. "Not the Nurgles either. The... fans... were driven back. The power didn't kill anyone." "This time," Marbet mutters nearby. "Our sisters are recovering," Lykopis continues. "Soon they'll stand, the referee says -- no one had to be taken to the infirmary. No one died."

Clearly, though, the goblin intends to start the game again before the teams have fully recovered. He probably wants to go home. I can't blame him.

The referee, at last, trots over to a goatman on the right side of the field --

-- and hands him the ball.

Marbet growls a terrible curse on the referee and says, "He was paid. That ball was heading nowhere near that player."

"Heads up!" I yell. "We barely have anyone guarding that side! The goat has time on the clock to run the ball in!"

I needn't have said anything, however.

The women are already tensing, knowing what to do.

The goblin sets the gameclock to just enough time for the Nurgle team to maneuver a little and run in the ball for a tie -- ending the game, since this is not a playoff. And sounds his whistle to start the game again.

Our far left wing, having no one to really guard, instantly launches themselves deep right in case the ball gets past our throwers, who run up to the line in mutual support to block the goat.

The goat, however, the cowardly goat, could see that he wouldn't quite be able to simply run upfield, and so he has waited far enough back to keep from being attacked -- until he gets support!

Although a couple of women get pushed around a bit, the goatman simply has nowhere to run! They'll surely have time to take the initiative once again, but even the goatman is too far away to reach our goal in time anymore!

The Nurgle priest still forms a very decent cage around the goat, even calling the snaily thing.

I'm a little amazed he doesn't allows us to murder his goat in punishment; but maybe even Nurgle priests have financial limitations.

Our fans start cheering; the game isn't over yet but it might as well be. All we have to do to win is survive.

Our women who were downed in the pitch invasion crawl to their feet, completely exhausted but ready to make that cage's life miserable if it tries anything!

"Here. Here. HEEEERE!" the women are calling, taunting their enemies, daring them to try something, anything. The women are pointing where they can try, daring them.

The Nurgle team


The referee sounds the final whistled code.

The crowd, quietly, warily, leaves, politely putting their trash away.

They only vote the match an 8 out of 20.

But we gain more fans. Nurgle does not.

Also, we gain 70 thousand gold.

And the win.

"We are damn-well playing the hobbits again, next time," one of the women murmurs, as they trot from the field in good formation, eerie quiet around us as if we're all somehow standing inside a tornado's eye.

"Yeah. We kind of owe them anyway," another woman agrees.

"Probably ought to go out tonight, or maybe tomorrow, and thank our fans," says the Seducer. She doesn't quite sound as if thinks she's serious.

By the following night, she was!

But Marbet Mavenwood didn't wait

another night

to show just how

entirely serious

she was.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 4


Oigme stuck her head into the command-tent. Soon to be more than that, for the rest of my life I hoped. Or until we settled down and found a house. Or maybe a castle. A hut would be fine with me, though not defensively.

"A little. A lot," I admitted as I sat up on the bedroll in the corner, where I had been contemplating the Games and their role in society -- and skittering around how to think of my life, after tonight.

Oigme chuckled affectionately. "Heroes aren't supposed to be nervous about anything, and certainly not about something as normal as this!"

"Not a hero," I held up a finger; "and I regard this as unspeakably special," I held up another finger. "Not exactly as normal. Though, maybe it's a good idea to remember that the unspeakably special is normal," I mused.

"That sounds more like you," she nodded. "Come on, I feel bad for you being all alone tonight. I'll buy you dinner at least. That's normal, too."

"Uh-huh," I agreed, just a little suspiciously, but then my stomach rumbled, suddenly not at all too nervous to keep any food down. We both smiled at that, and I climbed down out of the wagon.

"You'll definitely want a lot of red meat in your diet for a while. Let's get some bison steaks," she said, and led me along the proper path into the Norsen town.

"Can this be a threesome?!" The older Akantha appeared a little behind me to the left.

"No, because it isn't a twosome," I sighed.

"Sorry. Poor choice of humor. Are you nervous because you haven't...? y'know." "Akantha!" Oigme glared back from ahead of us on my right. "Well, I thought he might, y'know, want some practice maybe." "AKANTHA!" "Or advice! -- not necessarily practice!"

"No, that isn't it," I tried to defuse the tension. "And yes, we already have. Marbet made very sure, the past few nights, I wouldn't change my mind," I smiled lopsidedly.

"Oh. Kind of surprised you did that before you were married. I mean you, being you."

"Not at all. I regard myself as her husband now, and already married. Formalites are important of course, but couldn't add more than my commitment. Other than curses should I betray her I guess."

"Oh. ...yeah, okay, that seems like something you'd think. Sorry."

"That doesn't mean I don't feel nervous about... I don't know what, exactly."

"Children?" Oigme asked, going back to wending our way through the night-time tournament bustle. "Surely not meeting her parents... seeing as how they're dead..." she pondered.

"Being a lot more vulnerable."

I stopped -- so did Akantha, though Oigme went on without us a little before she knew we'd stopped. "That's it," I agreed in surprise. Akantha nodded. "No, really, I'm not kidding," I told Oigme as she came back to us. "I feel... horribly vulnerable now. She could hurt me badly now in so many ways..." And I sighed and reminded Oigme, "Steak?" She blinked and then we continued.

We found the place and found a table easily, seeing as I was Fillion Cavicorn and these were the Cavicorn Crusher Captains, and oh my lords in heaven that sounded so silly. Still, the owner insisted on giving a free steak to each of us -- and asked us to pay for our drinks. "A relatively quiet corner," Oigme ordered, and so we found ourselves in a cozy room for... well, really meant for a couple, to be honest.

"You still owe me a steak," Oigme said to Akantha as they squeezed me in between them. "I doubt I'll be able to drink off all your bet, even tonight."

", bet?" I asked, suspicious again.

Oigme smiled and we ordered our drinks and then we didn't talk for a while until our drinks arrived -- they just smiled and settled in with me. This was increasingly weird, I thought.

After the drinks arrived, Oigme finally, quietly answered: "...we bet on who might," she took a sip, "win you." She took another sip.

"She said Marbet. I said me -- though that was kind of a reflex," said Akantha and sipped her drink. "I just didn't... well... Marbet makes sense. A lot of sense. So would Oigme." She choked and coughed a bit. "Don't tell her I said that." "I'm sitting right here -- !"

"... I honestly don't know what to say. Other than... maybe we ought to leave? Not together," I hastily added. "I'm just... I really don't know what to say. I was worried you might be taking me to a debauchelor party of some sort, which I didn't want to be impolite about, and this -- "

Oigme and Akantha both snorted. "Who would we get to debauch you with? All the caravan women are showering Marbet right now!"

"And no way in hell would I turn you over to some -- bah!" Akantha exclaimed. "I have my professional pride, you know! If I decide to test you, you'll be tested! And I'll win," she smirked. "Decisively so. I wouldn't leave that to someone else."

I thought about that a minute as I sipped my drink to buy some time to think. This was exceedingly weird, and I was sure I had to be missing something.

"Is this, perchance, a test?" I finally asked. Oigme tried to look innocent, but Akantha chuckled. And said nothing, other than start to work on fried dried cucumbers brought by a waitress. She went to a lot of trouble to make sure I saw how she was eating the first of the spears she chose -- and offered one to Oigme, who rolled her eyes in amusement and then pertly snipped her own with a bite.

"So it's a test," I said. "And that's a distraction; you want me to think that that's what the test is about."

Now it was Oigme's turn to laugh, while Akantha looked annoyed. "You overthink too much, you know," she muttered and ate more normally.

"Which doesn't mean I'm wrong." I loved fried pickled cucumbers, but under the circumstances I wasn't sure I wanted to eat one... what the hell. I picked one up and started on. Both women goggled, then laughed. "Sometimes a cucumber's only a picked cuke, you know," I said. "You two overthink too much."

"A test, then," Oigme leaned back as much as feasibly possible in our cubby-room. "What about?"

I held up a hand and took a drink and answered, "Let me think a while."

We chewed and drank in a somewhat comfortable silence; then our steaks and bread arrived, freshly baked, and as we went to work on that I thought out loud: "I can't believe that either of you would think I'd be the kind of man to casually sleep around, much less on my wedding night. And neither of you have really made such an offer. So that can't be it."

Non-committal expressions of acknowledgment as they chewed and drank.

"So, if I'm not being tested by you, by whom, then? Another woman on the team? Why not test me themselves? -- especially Anazmache and Andromeda. I met them first."

"He said 'whom'," Oigme pointed out to Akantha, who nodded, "Yes, I noticed. Of course he did."

I cut my eyes between them -- this amused them immensely -- then continued. "A woman not on the team? None of them know me well enough to care, yet. One of the men? We don't have many, being an Amazon team -- "

" -- which we hope to change along the way," Oigme offhandedly added. "We've been making... good connections with various tradesmen in various towns. You know. For diplomacy's sake. And for future growth. Sorry, you were saying?"

Akantha must have been chortling at my expression. Or maybe at the diplomacy.

"Distraction again," I inferred. Oigme waved her hand, non-committedly again, and went back to eating.

It took me a minute of steak and bread, and one remaining pickle, to regain my train of thought.

"You either want to distract me from figuring out which man wants to test me -- which makes less than zero sense, since I have no friends or even enemies among them -- and I can't believe you'd try to test me for enemies anyway," a drink, "or else you want me to THINK I'm being distracted from a man -- "

"Pretty sure I'm capable of distracting you from any man, easily enough," Akantha said. "With Oigme's help? -- not that I'd need it..."

"Too much," I concluded. "You're trying to keep me from thinking about the only woman who knows me enough to care to test me at all, especially tonight." Silence. Eating.

"But if she thought that you could, and would, seriously test my fidelity, why would Marbet send you? Hm. Seems counter-productive. Especially on a night she must be nervous herself, naturally speaking."

Silence. Eating. Drinking. "We're thinking of running the score up on the halflings, safely, and then allowing them chances to, y'know, feel like they have a chance, not wasting their time," Oigme said.

"We honestly kind of like them," Akantha agreed. "Not only did they help us in the fight, yesterday, but they exemplify our motto more than us ourselves! Survive harder, right?"

"Why are they even out on the pitch at all?" Oigme shrugged.

"One of them -- you know what's weird? Remember that tree attacking one of them late in the game?" "Oh, yeah, that was weird," Oigme agreed. "He was actually complimenting me, pretty sincerely I thought." "I think they must be acting crude as an act -- right I remember that now," Oigme nodded her head between a bite of the disappearing steak: "The tree leaned over and thwapped him hard -- knocked him cold!" "But didn't hurt him." "No, but we were like, what the hell?" "The trees... couldn't be jealous for them!? Could they?!?" "Now there's an image I'm having a hard time processing..." They chortled again and Akantha added, "I thought I'd heard of everything, but -- "

"She isn't testing me. She's testing you two."

That got some chokes. And splutters. And stares.

I had to quirk a smile at that. And leaned myself back between them in satisfaction, pushing away my empty plate.

"She figured out, somehow, that you two were her biggest potential competition, and wanted you both to understand, just in case you didn't already: I belong to her, and I know I belong to her."

Silence. Back to eating. Was this a bluff? My confidence in my conclusion was creeping a little.

"Does that help you feel less nervous?" Oigme asked, not really looking at me. "About her ever hurting you."

I thought about that a minute. "Not sure. Maybe not. Maybe."

"He doesn't even think about hurting her, of course. Only of being hurt himself," Akantha quietly muttered.

"Now... wait a minute, that's not fair!"

But she held up a hand: "Sorry, that came out wrong. I wasn't criticizing you. I meant, you'd never even dream of hurting her in any way, of course. You being you. The whole idea is... what's the word? Anti-thetical. You're only worried about being hurt; that's natural."

"We wouldn't," I thought I heard Oigme whisper but then she loudly said, "I think the trees, what if they have, like, dryads inside them?!"

Akantha put down her knife and fork and goggled her eyes and said, "THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!!"

They talked about pros and cons of that theory a while. And ordered dessert. They said I'd need lots of sugar and protein both for a while. Whatever that meant.

"See," I tried again while in the dessert. "I don't understand why you two would leave the party she's having, and do all this, unless she sent you to do it, and that only makes sense if -- "

"Actually, we're testing her." "Oigme!"

I was busy coughing on my dessert. They let me recover. Akantha was staring daggers at her teammate, though in amusement. "Sorry. He's at dessert now, and just in case he finally figured it out I thought we ought to make sure we won the game. Stop stalling and run in the ball, so to speak." "Eh, all right, I guess that makes sense..." "Plus," Oigme added, "I'm not really sure it's a good idea to leave him with the impression for very long that she was testing even us. Which seems kind of devious really, even if we were the ones being tested."

I opened and closed my mouth a few times, after I finished coughing. They themselves finished their desserts, smiling like a couple of cats. And silently satisfied.

"Okay, time to make sure she's fit for him." "You don't think we ought to keep him out a couple of hours more?" "Nah; don't want to give her even a little legitimate reason to worry. We went to go eat, quietly leaving her party, but separately," Oigme explained, "taking you along, but publicly; went to a public place; but then we ate in seclusion, in a couples' nook that's quite a tight fit for all three of us, and really only the waitresses would know for sure what we were doing in here, or not -- and they might be bribed -- "

"Be sure to tip heavy," Akantha reminded her, while I continued goggling. Oigme grumbled a little and said, "You were the one who came up with the details." "Yeah, but I only lost the bet." "But you didn't have to pay for the steak after all." "But I'm going to LATER!" "Or, you could pay off the rest of the bet leaving the tip." Akantha snorted: "That would be way too much; we don't want to give her even a little good reason to suspect him, remember?" Then they glared at me as though this was my fault somehow, and went off to the lady's room and apparently worked it all out equitably there. I heard them laughing anyway.

We walked back to the camp outside the village, a minor city now during the tournament. They debated among themselves if taking me over a little to look at the nearby snowy mountains in the moonlight would be going too far. Neither one of them seemed to want to go back to the party in the public tent the team had rented for celebrating Marbet's marriage. "Mmmm, how about we sit up on the driving bench for the wagon together? Turn on the heat, turn the wagon around a little toward, you know, the mountains in the moonlight, and talk about strategy for the game?" Akantha asked.

"Oh, hey, that's a good idea. Go on Em. Get up there, you know how to make it work. Not the next game so much," Oigme agreed -- and then they both sharply watched me to see if I would do as they said and maneuver the wagon around.

I maneuvered the wagon around. That seemed the safest course of action, more or less, all things considered.

Then they hopped up, on either side, and didn't talk about strategy, but snuggled in and adjusted the covers and sat in silence.

I watched them on either side of me. This... felt okay, felt right, but still...

"I honestly have no idea what you two are doing," I admitted at last. "Not even the faintest clue anymore. What you said seems reasonable, and yet..."

"Win." "Win." They lightly slapped hands together and went back to quietly smiling and sharing the seat with me.

The midnight vows approached. Marbet hadn't yet appeared, and wouldn't until the midnight rooster crow.

"Did you pray?" Oigme asked.

"Yes. .... a lot."

"Of course he did," Akantha sighed -- but didn't sound like she was making fun. "Other men would go out and do whatever they wanted. What he wanted to do was be alone and think and pray."

"Who to?" Oigme asked.

"...can't say."

"Huh. Couldn't be anything nasty, though. So, whatever," Akantha shrugged.

A minute later, Oigme said, "This is a lot like praying, too."

"...yeah," Akantha agreed, distantly bemused.

A little later, Oigme said: "...I'm praying, too."

"...yeah," Akantha agreed.

So we sat, silently warm, under the ancient moon in the starry night. Praying together. More or less.

At midnight, I asked Marbet Mavenwood if she would let me marry into her name, giving away my own.

And she became my home.

The Pinkfoot Panthers lost their playoff game, 1 to 2, several days later. But they strove heroically, shrugging off determined attacks, and fighting to the end. One of them, Merry the Merrymaker, surrounded by no less than three of the women while he had the ball, not only parried away a syncopated blitz and then another set of more-than-a-little-astonished combined attacks, but counterattacked hard enough to knock out Akantha the Reducer who had been blitzing him. And knock himself out as well, dropping the ball, but still. Their single score was set up by a tree successfully catapulting a halfling down the field, practically into our end zone -- where some of our women not playing on the pitch at the moment brought him a sandwich basket. Which he enjoyed, there in the end zone.

I got the impression that after scoring our second point, the women made subtle efforts, in fact, to give the little micro-ogres a chance, just as I thought I remembered being discussed on my wedding night.

I'm not sure. Marbet and I weren't paying a lot of attention to the game. Even now, it's kind of a glowy blur.

I do however remember, that after the final whistle blew, and the halflings regrouped in another defeat --

-- all our women lined up on the pitch and saluted them:


And bowed.

...and I think some of the women may have visited the Panthers, later that night. And some nights afterward.

I'm not sure. Marbet and I weren't paying a lot of attention.

[Gamenote: up, the grand finale of Season Two! Of course it isn't against the necro team. Duh.]
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Survive Harder Season Two: Game 5: Pregame

"So," I said. "This is our final game of the tournament -- the first time we've made it to the final game -- against a team we've only tied and won against by a point -- which have been the hardest fights of our career so far...

"Does anyone want to tell me why our apothecary had to be summoned in the middle of the night, to the camp of the Pinkfoot Panthers, to save the life of Alkidike?"

Clearly no one wanted to tell me.

"Why was her back almost broken? Why was she covered in scratches? And twigs. One of the treants did that to her, right?"


"Yes? No? Maybe? Can I get a maybe!?" Now they were biting their lips. I really never thought I'd ever see Akantha -- the first Akantha, not Alkidike's sister -- look embarrassed. Still wanting to laugh, apparently, but also embarrassed.

"Rank irresponsibility," I spat. That word was good for spitting with. "Fine. I refuse to play the Nurgles for the championship. Pack up. We're moving on."

That got a reaction.

"Don't even look at me!" Marbet added, though they were doing a lot more than looking. "If your coach or manager doesn't show up, you aren't only forbidden to play, you might be killed for even getting near the pitch. There are too many nightmares walking the world right now in the Games for the League to allow any leniency to a team in rebellion. If Em refuses to coach you so will I. He is more than justified in treating you this harshly: A WOMAN ALMOST DIED!! -- one of our daughters now, in effect. And none of you will tell us why! And don't think this will mean you'll still get second place: you'll get dead last and the two other teams defeated in the first round will play for third and fourth perhaps. That means you'll be fifth -- in a pool of four!" She stabbed her first four fingers in the air and wiggled the thumb for emphasis.

"Whine at your team-mother, if you insist," I dismissed their wails of shock. "I have porters to be ordering to decamp. I'm thinking of having them rig up some spars so you-all can drag the wagons around for a while and give the engines a rest." "Oooh," Marbet brightly enthused, "I've always wanted to tour the mountains and fjords!" "Yes, dear, and after they've collapsed on the ground to sleep with the wagon spar, fighting the chaos beasts that surge from the north at night will be good for their training, too," I agreed quite pleasantly. "Clearly they have far too much energy at night right now after practice -- "

"Wait a minute," Marbet interrupted them and me. "Whine to me?! They can whine to each other! I have to go register a retreat by their coach, which will only look like he was scared and ran away, leaving his team behind. They need to understand how much disgrace they're piling on you as well as on themselves."

"Stop, stop! We took a vow!" Oigme pled as Marbet and I walked out the flap of the meeting-tent; I was signaling to the porters, whom I had already brought to gather around the tent, to start taking it down while the women were still inside. Hearing this, though, we stopped and I cut the air, before the porters from the local guild had really gotten going. They sighed and rolled their eyes and leaned on their mallets, as if they weren't getting paid either way.

"Did I hear something about a vow?" Marbet muttered.

"That sounds like we need more privacy," I returned, and sent the porters away to drink with the cheerleaders and the keg-girls and our two proto-blitzers. That cheered them up considerably; and the women would keep careful watch on them to ensure that they didn't make trouble.

The girls were murmuring to each other, mostly to Oigme who stood her ground silently as we re-entered the tent and carefully tied the flap down.

"You took a vow not to tell anyone what happened, even us, despite your team-sister nearly dying," I stated.

"Yes. She took it, too, voluntarily. Not everyone here knows -- not everyone here was there -- but they know we took a vow."

"Tell me as much as you can."

Oigme thought for a moment. "It was a vow to protect a secret." And raised one eyebrow.

" it. If you say it's important, I'll believe you. You've protected my secret, too, after all."

"...what." Now Marbet was looking at me.

"My name isn't really Filion Cavi -- "

"You're just going to let this go?!"

"I am. Oigme says it's important. They're trying to be responsible. I understand now."

"Well, I DON'T!!"

"Then you'll have to decide whether to trust me about trusting Oigme or not. In any case, we have disease-loving traitors to stomp.

"Let's go practice that."

[Gamenote: actually Alkidke got her back injured by a treant during the previous game; but I didn't mention that in a quick run-down of the important events, because I forgot. Then I had to account for why she wouldn't be on the field. Narrative angulation, wooo!]
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!