Late medieval skirmish rules

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

PDF skirmish rules

Chapter Two

As we did last "chapter" the table was left as-is. The terrain near the royal castle was fairly open.

The father of prince Merlin, king Merlin, was most aggravated at the peace of his tiny realm being shattered by the squabbling of his son and grandson, prince Richard. But his words of peace fell on deaf ears. Following the fracas of the previous year, Richard had won his freedom by promises to his father, which, having been offered up under the duress of imprisonment, he felt honor-bound to break at once. He appealed to his grandfather, who sheltered the young princling and his troops in the royal residence, the mightiest fortress for miles around, made of solid stone throughout. This posed no problem for prince Merlin, until he heard rumors that his father was seriously considering bypassing him and making his favorite grandson heir to the throne instead of his namesake and eldest son. Of course, prince Merlin was angry when he learned of this upsetting change in his father's favor.

Gathering his army once again, prince Merlin attempted twice to engage his son's forces on even terms: the first time, prince Richard obliged (somewhat) by leaving the gate open, allowing his father and his mounted champion to lead an attack over the drawbridge: but this first attempt at subjecting his "rebellious" son to obedience failed utterly: prince Merlin found himself beset by three to one, and his champion also, and both were quickly unhorsed and the attack stayed: Merlin managed to limp off the field, but his champion was captured and had to be ransomed.

A little time passed, during which prince Merlin went on crusade and made friends amongst a peerless group of German Teutonic knights. Their leader, a mysterious knight who affected an all-black equippage, agreed that Merlin's claim to the throne was being unjustly denied him. Upon returning from their mutual crusade, the Black knight joined his men to prince Merlin's in another assault upon the royal castle. This time the use of a movable belfrey up close to the walls nearly succeeded in gaining an entrance; but accurate fire from Richard's marksmen lit the belfrey on fire (burning alive several of the Black knight's pikemen), and the assault was scrubbed.

After a short time to recoup and build another machine, the impatience of prince Merlin to get his son in his power caused him to launch another assault, prematurely as it turned out, because the Black knight's forces were late in arriving on the field.


Renewed hostilities: at the royal castle
The picture shows the belfrey (a piece of boombox packing material, complete with ruler and log "bridges") moving up to the wall. King Merlin can be seen wearing his white rob of state standing above the gate. Prince Richard's and his grandfather's men are massed on the wall awaiting the assault.


Prince Merlin's movable belfrey reaches the wall.
The fire arrows of the defenders failed to catch the machine on fire. Prince Merlin's marksmen moved out to trade shots with the defenders.


Prince Richard sallies...
Merlin could tell the battle was going badly at once: within moments all four of his marksmen were down, and not an enemy had been hit. The defenders on the wall opposite the belfrey stoutly resisted the efforts of the attackers to get close with their assault bridges. At this point, prince Richard sallied with his mounted men.


...and overthrows his father
Prince Merlin naturally thought his son was being a fool to come out into the open with only an outnumbered portion of his forces, and advanced gladly to cross lances and swords man for man: he ordered some of his infantry to strike into the flank of Richard's horsemen. But all went to pieces in an instant. Merlin was overthrown by Richard's champion jouster and sorely hurt: Merlin's own champion was thrown down by Richard himself: and Merlin's standard bearer's horse was slain, though the bearer himself landed nimbley on his armored feet.


One-sided carnage
Out of the five infantry who had been dispatched to take advantage of Richard's exposed flank, two were shot down and the survivng three were quickly dispatched as they came up to the fight. Still, not a scratch on Richard's men had been scored by Merlin's side; and already nearly half of his own forces were out of the fight, including himself. The three enemy horsemen crowded around Merlin's sorely beset and dismounted standard bearer, but this worthy fighter kept the defense and prevented Richard from capturing his father where he lay, struggling to arise.


Failure of the assault
Richard's marksmen all trained their fire upon the assaulting troops atop the belfrey and scored more hits: the defenders on the walls effectively prevented even one bridge from being attached to the battlements. The assault petered out.


"Merlin the mad" struggles not to lose his temper
At this point, Ricky's fabulous dice rolls (he hardly knew what a one, two or three looked like) got the better of the real Merlin, and Natalie, his daughter caught him in the act of almost throttling his son. But he restrained himself, and the battle continued to its brief conclusion.


The "crusaders" arrive on the field
Finally, the Black knight arrived on the far end of the "field". It was not a pretty sight that the Black knight saw; he ordered his footmen to make speed at once to the rescue of his ally and friend, prince Merlin.


A slight discipline problem?
There may have been a slight difference of opinion in how their prowess was being used, and some discipline was threatened to get the men to obey their leader's commands: here we see a crusader knight threatening to flatten one of the infantry commanders. (Nice pic my daughter took: beats any of mine.)


The valiant rescue of prince Merlin
Putting on speed, the Black knight and his horsemen arrived at the edge of the one-sided fight in time to keep prince Merlin from being captured. His standard bearer had succeeded twice in driving their enemies off long enough to mount a loose horse, only to be dismounted again. But both of Richard's knights broke their lances on Merlin's standard bearer's armor, giving him enough time to retreat behind the corpses of the horses and the fallen men, and raise prince Merlin to his feet: then another loose horse provided the prince with a mount, which he wobblingly managed to get astride with help. The standard bearer turned to face Richard and his knights and held them off long enough for the crusader horsemen to come up. Prudence governed prince Richard's decision to withdraw back into the castle and raise the gate.

Prince Merlin secured permission from his son and father to retrieve his wounded and to bury his dead. There was in fact only one casualty requiring the last rites. The Black knight bade prince Merlin adieu and went away to attend to other affairs, but promised to return and complete the work of seeing that prince Merlin's right to the throne will be restored.

There was a hiatus now, again, in the little war. Prince Merlin recovered his health slowly. But his resolve never waivered: his son and father would be compelled to admit that his right to the throne was righteous.

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