Late medieval skirmish rules

Late medieval skirmish rules

Including pictures of a "knights of the dinner table" skirmish game.

PDF skirmish rules

Chapter Ten

"Sir Wasted Space" had a brother, another retainer of prince Richard's, even less remarkable than the feckless older brother who achieved notoriety only by his final demise after a career of unlucky failures as a warrior. Occasionally, especially when in his cups and bored, prince Richard would regal his captive audience at court with stories from the past. And "Sir Wasted Space" figured prominently as a butt for jokes in poor taste: heaping scorn on the dead, as it were. The younger brother fumed in silence, affecting to not care in the least that his dead sibling's reputation continued to be one of ignominy.

But as time wore on, he conceived a great hatred for the entire royal family of the tiny mountain realm. And he vowed revenge on them all.

An upcoming wedding of a close kindred of the royals gave the brother of Sir Wasted Space his opportunity. His preparations were these: he contacted a certain mercenary renegade, a former soldier once employed by the local Military Orders, and after paying him to hire a band of assassins, and preparing an entrance to the castle of prince Richard during his watch in one of the towers, he spiked the wine to increase its potency. While pretending to drink heavily himself with the revelers, the brother of Sir Wasted Space actually remained cold sober.

The evening of the marriage was in high summer, the weather perfection, a cloudless, starry sky spread above the warm ground of the inner bailey. Everyone sprawled where they preferred in the open. The dancing wore down and the fires burned low. Nobody moved indoors in either royal entourage. King Merlin was the visitor at his son's castle. The retainers of both king and prince tended to group separately around their own now-banked fires. Other guests lay where they dropped. Up on the walls and in the towers, the sentries had been offered drink by the brother of Sir Waster Space, to assuage their disappointment at not being included in the party below. Thus it was a castle full of almost helpless and witless fools that awaited destruction.

The only downside to his plans that could not be averted was the fact of professional habit. Being a frontier holding, the tiny kingdom of warriors were, from birth, taught to go armed at all times. Thus the retainers of both king and prince were never very far from being fully armed. Helms and shields and heavier weapons were laid nearby. Daggers and sidearms were never dispensed with. Armor was unlaced to allow a degree of relaxation. But no one was unarmed, not even at the dance. The sight of practically fully armed men was so common that nobody gave it a thought in the warlike realm. The brother of Sir Wasted Space bit his lip in frustration at this singular flaw in his plan to slaughter the sleepers like sheep.

But he was confident in the strength of the wine he had given the sentries. And he envisioned a careful advance across the bailey, slitting throats as he and his hired assassins went, until finally they would find the king and his hated son and culminate their night of vengeance with the total victory of regicide.

The wedding guests and retinues sleeping on the open ground under the sky of a matchless summer night.

The mercenary renegade leads his band of hired assassins.

They approach the tower, where a ladder awaits

We assumed that the brother of Sir Wasted Space either used a pair of knotted ropes, dropped from the window, or managed to secrete a ladder outside the walls: in the case of a secreted ladder, the arriving assassins would uncover it and prop it against the tower and enter by the window. In either case, the ladder "marks the spot" of treacherous entrance.

Sleeping sentries on the battlements above, and wedding guests likewise slumbering in the bailey yard.

The assassins cluster around the foot of the ladder.

The mercenary has already gained entry, and the first of his hired swordsmen ascend.

The mercenary starts along the wall walk.

A sentry above the main gate snores in drunken slumber.

The swordsmen are all inside. Javelineers start up the ladder.

The sentry starts up in sudden alarm!

No band of armed men as large as this one can enter a castle without making at least a little noise. Perhaps this sentry's capacity for strong drink is above the average. And also, there is the fortunate timing of the prince's banner bearer in the bailey, waking up and seeing shapes advancing along the wall walk, and across the yard! He screams out a warning and people start to awake.

"Leslie", the banner bearer, screams out a warning (he rolled boxcars twice in a row!)

The brother of Sir Wasted Space curses in frustration: the attack is discovered!

The swordsmen leaving the tower.

Attacking along the wall walk and entering the bailey below.

On the other side of the main gate, two sentries wake up and turn toward the sounds of alarm.

More assassins exit the tower and line up on either side of the vengeful brother of Sir Wasted Space.

Most of the wedding party of revelers are on their feet, seizing weapons and shaking wine fumes from their heads!

Prince Richard is mounted up!

More martial in his bearing than most, prince Richard had insisted on keeping his warhorse nearby fully accoutered. Reeling from the effects of being jarred from a drunken sleep, he is nevertheless soon in the saddle and drawing sword.

The hired assassins have bowmen too. They enter the castle last.

The assassins see men standing and readying for a fight!

The attackers enter the bailey. On the wall, the mercenary engages the sentry.

The brother of Sir Wasted Space pauses to allow his men to group. This is going to turn into a little battle, not a slaughter of the helpless! But there is nothing to be done now. His plan is wrecked on the fickleness of pure chance and fate.

The axeman drives back the mercenary!

As the sentry seized his two-handed weapon, the mercenary discharged a bolt. It did not penetrate the sentry's armor. He withstood the first thrusts and cuts of the mercenary's sword, then drove the man back.

A javelin drops "Danny" the jester. Oh the humanity!

The battlelines ...

... take shape.

The sentry in the top of the tower is attacked and huddles behind his pavise.

As the brief little battle takes place below, he is eventually dispatched.

The sentry with the broadaxe is facing two enemies at once.

One of the king's retinue, a halberdier, takes an arrow.

The other halberdier likewise is wounded out of the fight by a Sudanese arrow.

Numbers are with the would-be assassins as the two sides close for melee.

Prince Richard charges on horseback directly into the face of the vengeful brother of Sir Wasted Space.

King Merlin takes on a swordsman. His banner bearer faces a second swordsman.

The defenders are stoutly resisting the attack. The mercenary begins to reload his crossbow.

Leslie, the prince's banner bearer, is facing three enemies at once!

Sir Alexander, never very happy in a fight on foot, trots in his cap-a-pie plate armor and lags behind.

The broadaxe wielding sentry pitches over the edge of the rampart!

The swordsman facing the royal banner happens to be the flagman for the bad guys.

The king vanquishes his man!

Leslie is brought down! Sir Alexander avenges his comrade by dispatching a swordsman.

Another retainer of prince Richard's is wounded by an arrow, this time fatally.

The backup sentry faces the victorious swordsman.

The mercenary shoots at the crossbowman standing above and behind him, but armor foils the shot. Likewise the defender shoots without result. They both begin to reload.

Sir Alexander is effectively facing four to one odds momentarily.

True to his unlucky past, the figure representing the brother of Sir Wasted Space breaks his sword! Prince Richard on horseback presses on him hard.

The mercenary goes down to a fatal shot!

As he was reloading, the king's crossbowman (upper left corner) put a fatal bolt through the mercenary. He bled out on the rampart. The king is facing two javelineers. The enemy banner bearer has driven back the king's banner bearer.

Both banner bearers have considered flight "the better part of valor!"

Prince Richard takes on three at once!

The two Sudanese archers turned to face the prince. And in the next instant all three are bashed senseless by a combination of sword strokes and impacting warhorse (prince Richard successfully "Schwarzeneggered"), including the hapless brother of Sir Wasted Space, as he reached down to try and rearm himself with the weapon of a fallen swordsman.

Now only facing one foe apiece. The fight is nearly at an end.

Prince Richard's enemy goes down.

"Four!" He shouts to his father. King Merlin has only accounted for two of their enemies so far.

The enemy banner bearer turns to face the mounted prince.

The king faces one last enemy.

The enemy flagman makes a break for the tower and escapes.

King Merlin takes his man down.

"Three!" The king shouts to his son a moment later.

The few who got away.

The last three attackers are offered quarter and surrender.

The king's flagman hears the sounds of victory and stops running away.

The king took the last archer prisoner, thus evening the tally of vanquished enemies with his son to four apiece. There were many wounded. The enemy wounded were killed. The dead included prince Richard's two-handed flailman and the mercenary.

King Merlin was out of patience with his banner bearer. He took the standard away and gave it to Danny. Then he divested the fool of his rags and made the erstwhile banner bearer his court fool in Danny's place.

The king had nothing but praise for Leslie, his son's flagman, and bestowed a new epithet which stuck, calling him "the Great Leslie"; for his light sleep and timely cry of alarm had saved all their lives. And he had fought against odds valiantly.

The brother of Sir Wasted Space was hanged ignominiously from the battlements and left for the carrion birds to pick apart.