Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Inner Ramparts (Wermspittle)

The only non-bloodstained ectograph from our visit
to the North West Rampart last Winter.
The trees were singing right up until the Black Smoke alarm...
Between the Great Round Road and the Baffles lie the Inner Ramparts. Eight cardinal redoubts, each heavily fortified and dunged about with various and sundry war machinery, most of it rusted, rotten and defunct. Old timers claim there used to be more of these defensive positions, some say twelve, others as many as sixteen. Now there are eight marked on the maps, even if only six of them are currently listed as active. That's still more than enough to keep the seriously diminished ranks of the Wall Guard busy. There haven't been any of the promised replacements in years. The units originally stationed at these places have become erstwhile squatters, raising their families right there upon the battlements, along the trenches, and in the old Guard Houses. They train-up their children as their replacements now. Each of the five surviving units of the Wall Guard stationed at the still functioning Guard Houses has its own slightly modified insignia, what amounts to a sort of family crest now. It's a tradition among them. Some say that it has affected the children in strange ways. The Wall Guard tend to have more than their share of Prodigies and Oddlings, at least according to popular rumor. Perhaps that's just so much empty-headed gossip. Or it could be a troubling sign of bad times ahead. This is Wermspittle; things can always get worse.

The Eight Inner Ramparts enclose an area known as the Baffles that has been walled-up, cordoned-off and barricaded away. Officially, the Ramparts are supposed to be the only means of access to this area. Unofficially, practically anyone who has spent more than a single Winter in this place knows there are several discrete entrances into the Baffles and the Weak Points leading off to the Adjacent Worlds beyond. All of those worlds are dead. They've all been cataloged, documented and written-off by the majority of experts and scholars at the Academy. It's understandable. Practically every Adjacent World that has been discovered in this region tends to lead to a dead, barren place. The Academy was originally founded here in order to study all these dead and abandoned worlds. The Institute for Apocalyptic Studies used to be an academic institution, before it became a congress of cultists.

Steel-reinforced concrete bunkers flank each of the ponderous draw-bridges connecting the Ramparts with the outer perimeter of the Baffles. Pillbox-style mitrailleuse emplacements overlook the mined and wire-strung approaches. The barbed wire is rusted into uselessness where it isn't entangled with Red Weeds. The Third Army under Javret stripped most of the pill-boxes to use the guns in their disastrous assault on Nagrothea. There used to be heavy cannon as well, but most of those were removed. Some of the bigger guns were remounted along the North Face of the main bluff, ostensibly to defend Wermspittle from the hordes and mobs flooding out from the war-ravaged Three Empires. Most of these cannon were supposed to be melted-down and used to construct urgently needed barricades and spiked barriers for the Sewer Militia to use in their ongoing war in the Deep Below. There are rumors that at least three of the big guns were hidden somewhere in the city by resisters. There are also indications that a goodly amount of the steel from this effort was illegally diverted. No one is sure how or why, or even where the misdirected metal wound up. Some say it was just incompetence on the part of some logistics officer. The Sewer Militia did hang three quartermaster's orderlies in the course of their investigation into the matter. That was back when they still hung people. Back before the Alraunes made that a really bad idea.

Thanks to the Wall Guard, the Ramparts are still manned, more or less. If you're going to visit the Ramparts, go in the Winter. Things tend to be quieter then. You're less likely to get shot by accident. They still maintain the old Black Smoke alarms in the Northern Guard Houses, the alarms in the East are not as reliable and the alarms in the West are gone. Some enterprising scavengers took the alarm when the Western Guard House was abandoned to the Red Weeds.



The Eight Inner Ramparts
d8Cardinal DirectionStatusUnit StrengthUnit InsigniaBlack Smoke %
1NorthCommandant Zulmer has made this Guard House his Headquarters. After sixteen executions and summary courts martial, things are settling down again, as much as they ever do in this place. Zulmer has begun training-up a corps of non-coms with the help of some old sergeants mustered out of the Sewer Militia. This has caused some trouble for him with the units of the Wall Guard stationed on the Outer Ramparts. A schism appears imminent, even inevitable now.30 Light Infantry, 16 Heavy Infantry, 4 Light Cavalry, 67 Irregulars, 45 Specialists, 21 Support, 106 DependentsBlack Horned-Bear on Green Square3%
2North EastThe White Harts recently took in some Pallid Refugees to bolster their ranks. They are rumored to have worked-out some sort of arrangement with a group of scavenger-scholars to help fund their re-armament efforts. They recently recovered some field artillery and have requested a training cadre to help them build-up their own artillery-team.49 Light Infantry, 2 Heavy Infantry, 6 Irregulars, 15 Pallid Recruits, 6 Support, 45 DependentsWhite Hart on Black Thorn-Wreath10%
3EastThis Guard House is compromised, the lower levels are flooded. More than half the Hawks have fled to the North East Guard House. The rest are staying to fight what looks like a losing battle. No reliable reports have come out of this place since the trouble began. Lots of rumors are in circulation, of course.10 Light Infantry, 14 Heavy Infantry, 18 Irregulars, 2 support, (Rest of unit in transit to NE Guard House)Yellow Hawk on Blue Oval70%
4South EastSurrounded by shantytown, despite mold infestation. The Purple Lions occupy the Infirmary. The Guard House proper is completely taken-over by mold. Jelly Hunters are flocking to this place to investigate the infestation. There is a bit of tension between the factions, but so far the Jelly Hunters have been supportive of the Wall Guard. It saves them money and effort.16 Light Infantry, 3 Heavy Infantry, 23 Irregulars, 56 DependentsPurple Lion on Black Triangle15%
5SouthThe South Guard House was abandoned due to the Scarlet Plague. No one gets out of the Containment Zone, though every now and then a few cultists get permission to pass through the cordoned-off section. The majority of the unit assigned to this Guard House occupies a fall-back position that their Combat Engineers are converting into a sort of Keep. No one talks about the 'conscripted undead' digging trenches.6 Light Infantry on patrol duty, 4 Irregulars on-call. Reserves include mortar crews, mine-layers and combat engineers.[Red Griffin on Gold Triangle]30%
6South WestThis Guard House was abandoned after collapse of Main Bunker due to undermining. This area is mostly dangerous rubble, riddled with sinkholes and collapsing tunnels, sprinkled liberally with land-mines and lingering traces of Black Smoke. Foragers and Scavengers have begun to construct some make-shift fortifications off to the side of the main thoroughfare. Some of them have taken to using the old unit's insignia. This has caused some friction between them and the 'legitimate heirs' of the Purple Wyverns. So far the Commandant has not said anything. Officially.22 Light Infantry, 3 Heavy Infantry, 6 Irregulars stationed outside the primary firewall in make-shift bivouac.[Purple Wyvern]90%
7WestAnother abandoned Guard House, this one is now completely overgrown by Red Weeds. You can see the Purple Glow quite a ways off. There are a few survivors of the old unit originally assigned to this Guard House trying to maintain a patrol, but it is pretty ineffective at present. 6 Light Infantry, 22 Irregulars patrol the back quarter on sporadic basis.[Blue Fist on White Teardrop]30%
8North WestPartially rebuilt after fire, Black Smoke lingers about the draw-bridge supports. The Black Eyes have come to an agreement with some of the local gangs of Feral Children; they buy the older kids at a set rate. They are training the new kids to be their own 'combat foragers' and sending them across the Baffles to look for anything useful over there. The Commandant is very interested in their progress.42 combat Engineers, 23 Light Infantry, 6 Heavy Infantry, 37 Irregulars, 23 Support, 12 Specialists, 78 Dependents.Black Eye Over Blue Diamond75%

Black Smoke %: This is the base chance of someone spotting Black Smoke every hour. It might be a false alarm, someone's moronic idea of a joke, or it could be the real thing. It varies by circumstance and situation.


Note
Each of the Guard Houses will be more fully detailed in a follow-up post, including their own Encounter Tables. We'll link each of those entries back to this table so it can serve as a central hub for all things pertaining to the Inner Ramparts.


5 comments:

  1. The more and more I read of Wermspittle, the more I see Karl Edgar Wagner's "Lynortis Reprise" as partial inspiration. Have the authors read the Kane series of books, or at least "Night Winds", the book in which "Lynortis Reprise" is printed?

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  2. Do you recommend 'Night Winds'? Wagner has not been an overt influence, but I'll dig through my boxes of Seventies paperbacks and see if I can find that book, or something else by him. I know I did read something of his quite a while back, and I have him listed on the list of stuff to read based upon the recommendations of other writers or bloggers whom I correspond with from time to time. I think that Trey is a big fan of Wagner's stuff. The roots of Wermspittle are tangled-up with a bit of folklore, faery tales, and weird fiction. Wells, Poe, Machen...Brackett, Smith, Burroughs...those inspirations are pretty openly acknowledged. I just finished Junger's 'Storm of Steel', based on a recommendation by Gus L, so I will see if I can either locate something by Wagner. We're due for a trip to Half-Price Books, so maybe I can pick something up...
    Thanks for the recommendation!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, Night Winds is the best place to start when reading Wagner, I've found. It's a compilation of five short stories, and gives a brief taste of Kane the character from various angles. The first story in the book is a bit weak, so I'd suggest starting with Two Suns Setting or Lynortis Reprise first, save Undertow for second, or even last.

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  3. That's lovely - what's the statline for a Wall Guard - Light Infantry, Heavy Infantry etc? Just curious because there don't seem to be many of them. Also is anyone still besieging Wyrmspittle and are they equally low on supplies and manpower?

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  4. Thanks. Stats, etc. are coming in each of the sections, one per Guard House. They have different types of Specialists, and some variation in terms of what weapons they have on-hand. Some of them are pretty medieval, using spears and pole-arms, others still maintain gunpowder grubs, so they have fire-arms.

    No, there are not many of these folks left. There hasn't been a major incursion through The Baffles in decades. Mostly one-off prowlers or strange, isolated incidents, except for whatever under-mined the East Guard House, and that mat have originated or been complicated by things from within the town itself (see: Aethyrim).

    The Wall Guard is split into two primary factions; the Inner Ramparts (these folks), and the Outer Battlements, who are the people patrolling the outward-facing fortifications against invasion or attack from outside. The Outer Battlements units get the majority of the support, such as it is, and have the real numbers, mostly because more things prowl around outside the walls of the town than are contained within The Baffles. Plague-carriers, Refugees, Afflicted, all sorts of people come to Wermspittle; some have to be turned away or driven off. Others, such as mercenaries, freebooters, bandits and the like must be discouraged, beaten or recruited. The Outer Battlements are far, far busier on any given day, than the Inner Ramparts. And there's less Black Smoke to contend with as well. we'll be detailing the Outer Battlements after we get through the Inner Ramparts.

    The Inner Ramparts enclose a section of land known as The Baffles, a messed-up No Man's Land region of abandoned trenches, burned-out bunkers, ruined fortifications and lots of land-mines, Black Smoke and worse. There are numerous Weak Points in this place. Some were listed and registered and used for the study of Adjacent Worlds (most of them dead). People used to try to set-up farms, gardens or to graze flocks out past these Weak Points, but not any more. Not since the last three wars. Some of these dead worlds were used as internment camps or labor camp-gulags. Others were used for experiments of a highly immoral and inhumane sort. We're seeing the results of this sort of thing now. Things prowl The Baffles, things that cannot be allowed entrance into the town. But the defenders are fewer every Winter, and they are constantly running low on supplies.

    Out past The Baffles, there are dozens of smaller, temporary flux-points, Weak spots, and wholesale inversions of spatial parameters. It's only a matter of time before something really nasty, possibly an army of some sort, comes through one of these things...

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