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Thread: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

  1. #1

    Default A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    A Word Gone Mad



    The Battle of Pavia by Bernard Orley

    A new AAR with the Italian Wars Mod playing the Margraviate of Mantua. This will be a more narrative AAR, so where the main POV will be a single unit, though mostly its captain. Battles that happened on the map will happen in the story (though if our characters aren't involved in it, it might only be a second hand account) as well as the result will be the same, so no changes for narrative reasons there. However, how these battles played out might change. For example, a small scale battle on the field might be the siege of a small villages, an attack of a camp, etc. ...

    Chapters (May contain spoilers)


    Chapter 0: North to South, Past and Future

    Chapter 1: What is the price of a company
    Chapter 2: The Captain of the Band of the Black Boar
    Chapter 3: Adversus solem ne loquitor
    Chapter 4 A Monastery
    Chapter 5: A new day, a new disappointment
    Chapter 6: Mirandola
    Chapter 7: Ponte Nuovo Part 1
    Chapter 8: Ponte Nuovo Part 2
    Chapter 8: Ponte Nuovo Part 3


    Last edited by theSilentKiller; March 13, 2022 at 04:48 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Chapter 0: North to South, Past and Future

    The young boy was lying on the floor in front of the hearth and the world was spread out in front of him. His head was supported by his tiny hands as he looked down on the woodcut map of central Europe on the floor. His eyes were fixated on the area between the rivers Elbe, Danube and Rhine, then slowly moved east only to stop at a small dot accompanied by the letters ‘Cologne’. From there they followed river southwards, passing through Koblenz and Ruders heim,crossed the line between Speyer and Heidelberg that stood watch left and right of a long curve to the south-west and then came past Koblenz. Further south at Basel the Rhine made strong east-turn and went into Lake Constance. From there he grew again, continued his path until touched on the lands of Lichtenstein and eventually disappeared somewhere in the Swiss alps.


    The alps; a mountain range which made the river the boy’s eyes had just travel along seem so frail, as though it was the glass filament of one of the renowned Italian artisans, rivaled in the arts of glassblowing only by the craftsmen of the Hansiatic cities. South of the massive blob of mountains - the details barely visible on the woodcut - was, almost as thought it was created out of some drollery of god, a boot. Or rather, a peninsula in the shape of a boot. The fertile north which had born some of the richest city states in Europe so close to each other they could have been considered sister states, yet divided as mortal enemies, the fortified lands of the likes of Calabria and Puglia to the south – the entire peninsular and its people seemed so far away to the boy it was almost absurd how close they were actually to the chamber in which he enjoyed the warmth of the hearth.

    No Italian, German, Spaniard or Frenchmen and especially not the young boy could have predicted that this peninsular would become both a stage for conflicts so brutal they rivaled the deeds of the Visgoths and Huns a millennium earlier, and the revival of supposed long forgotten arts, studied and further developed by a new generation of bohemians.


    The borders between the middle ages and the modern era are hazy as the contours of people passing by each other on a most-shrouded day,but for the scholars at the end of the 15th century it was clear that a new era had started. The middle-ages to them were times of barbarity, whereas now that the ideas of the ancients were rediscovered all people were now paragons of virtue and wars surely would eventually cease to exist! To a simple monk spending his days studying the teachings of the Greeks and Romans, the medical theory of the Jews and Arabs, and the texts of the famed engineers and architects of Europe as generations of monks did before him throughout the last 700 years this surely must have seemed mere affectation. To later generations maybe irony whereas to others, who are more superstitious omen.
    Whatever it was and however what would later be called ‘The Renaissance’ came to be, it would not be able to hide the cruelty of mercenaries armies ravaging the lands as chivalric ideas faded into irrelevancy.
    Yet it also was a time one could rise above all. One great deed in battle, one decisive blow at an enemy could mean fame and a place among the immortals in the history books.
    The fruits were ripe for the taking – one only had reach for them.

  3. #3
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Welcome back to the Study! I'm looking forward to the adventures of the unit from Mantua and their captain. This sounds like an interesting setting, as people move on from the middle ages to the Renaissance.

  4. #4
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Woot WOOT! TSK, back in da house! Always a good thing to see

    I am working right now, and can't give this the proper read it deserves, but I am excited to dig into this later tonight when I have a moment!
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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Bravo! A fine start, and I look very much forward to reading more as it is written.

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    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Jester
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    *A wild theSilentKiller appears*

    Great to see you again and with a promising tale to add to the mix!

  7. #7

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Welcome back to the Study! I'm looking forward to the adventures of the unit from Mantua and their captain. This sounds like an interesting setting, as people move on from the middle ages to the Renaissance.
    Thank you for your comment! Yes, the late 15th century is an interesting period - gunpowder had already been in use for over a century (think of Crecy) but only really took off in the mid 15th century, so battles were still mostly fought with a medieval doctrine which also grew less important with the infantry revolution.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kil11
    Woot WOOT! TSK, back in da house! Always a good thing to see

    I am working right now, and can't give this the proper read it deserves, but I am excited to dig into this later tonight when I have a moment!
    Its a good think to be back in da house


    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish
    Bravo! A fine start, and I look very much forward to reading more as it is written.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë
    *A wild theSilentKiller appears*

    Great to see you again and with a promising tale to add to the mix!
    Thank you, both of you, for your comments! With this, let's go to a real start (admittedly slow start) to this story:

  8. #8

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Chapter 1: What is the price of a company?



    View of Mantova (16th century) by Frans Hogenberg



    What is the price of a company of 150 armed men led by a 17 year old boy with no notable history in military leadership? One side of the table said 150 000 monthly florins, the other 400 000 monthly florins. 190 000 said the ink on the paper. The man sitting with his back facing the window looked up from the contract, slid it in front of the man on the other side of the table and leaned back on his chair. The other man took the paper, turned it and read, the green irises of his sunken eyes slowly wandering from one corner to the other.
    He moved his upper body forward and took the feather that lay right of the contract. Despite its unnecessarily large size and exotic colour hinting on the wealth of its owner - or on the vanity as man of the church might say - it was almost comically frail in the right hand of the man. The knuckles seemed to be covered in multiple layers of thick skin and the inside of his hands were like leather. One of these hands moved quickly over the paper putting the word “Raffael” on it. Then, suddenly it stopped. The man seemed almost frozen for a moment, only his eyes wandering over the paper as though focusing on some fairy that was only visible to him dancing over the contract, as though trying to find the family name of the man called Raffael, as though he was trying to find a name.

    The man on the other side of the table leaned further back on his seat. The creaking of the wood under the heavy weight was for a moment the only sound in small room. He started tapping with his left index finger on the table while his right hand hung down behind the back rest. Dark eyes wearing a tint of boredom inspected the wooden ceiling, their proprietor’s mouth faked a smile like a venetian merchant, though if someone had told him that he undoubtedly would have repurposed his fat hands used to writing as some kind of flesh maces.

    Raffael proceeded, writing the name “Parello di Rollo” on the paper, not knowing whether Parello is actually an Italian name nor whether Rollo existed on any map of the country. He leaned back and handed the man in front of him the contract. The man stood up moving the chair back while sending shock waves over his fatty cheeks.

    “Well, its settled then”, he roared with a coarse voice, “My lord surely will be very thrilled to have your support on the field. Further commands will be given by when time is due. Until then stay the nights within the city gates as per the contract. If nothing else, peace be on you.”

    Raffael stood up and said: “I hope not, bad for the business.”

    Without any further words, he turned around, left the small room and walked to one of the “mercenary fields” outside the south-eastern gate – or rather "no-man's land" that had been unofficially granted to leaders of the various hired companies in service of the Margravate of Mantua for training purposes, much to the dismay of the locals that had to endure them. However awful the leaders behaved, with “brawls, day-drinking and even theft being a daily occurrence”, their men camping in front of the city or lodging in the towns and villages around the city where considered an even worse plight on the population. “Crimes against the dignity of women, theft and robbery, blasphemy to a degree that rivaled the heretics to the south and any combination of those” were allegedly so common that some even questioned whether their safety would be in any greater danger under the rule of a supposed enemy lord.
    However some might have said that there were mere urban rumors created by citizens unhappy that the protection of the cities and their vicinity now fell into the hands of mercenary – conveniently ignoring that mercenaries often came from the same class as them.
    Whether they were a plight or mere paid protectors of the lands was of little concern to Raffael Par- … Parello? Parallo? Whatever name he wrote on that paper he forgot and he care little for remembering it. He hurried through the streets of Milan to the park where a group of armed men standing in a circle were training.

    Upon entering the circle his turned to his second in command, a giant towering four heads above him. Looking up he smiled the smile of someone not used to smiling.

    “We’ve got things to do.”

    His second in command didn’t even turn his face to his captain and said:

    “Aye, cap’”

  9. #9
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Dude, I really like how you started this update. The back and forth of the different valuations of the company is really well done, and puts the perfect flavor on this first proper installment! The rest then follows so cleanly. A great beginning, TSK, just great!
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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Parello di Rollo... brilliant.

    As Kilo said, excellent beginning, and I'm looking forward to more... much... much... more.

  11. #11

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Thank you both Kilo and McScottish for your comments!

    Parello di Rollo... brilliant.
    You might not believe be, but I actually though about having a MC with this name - took me days to realize how dumb that name is

  12. #12

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Chapter 2: The Captain of the Band of the Black Boar


    Incomprehensible. The sight in front of Raffael was utterly incomprehensible. How could people knowing they could be ordered to march at any moment be this poorly prepared? Incomprehensible. Armed men were wandering in the middle of the road, drinking, dancing to drums or with a village girl in their arms. Some were sitting on the ground in the shade of eaves playing Piket, while some more of a sense of duty were sparring as the sharp sound of clashing steel that cut through the unusually lively village suggested.

    Raffael dismounted and walked to the church which stood at the middle of the village with something resembling a town square in front of it. However that might have been to generous for what eventually amounted to a circle of tramped down earth in front of the the entrance to a wooden church so small it could just as well haven been called a large shrine. At least now it had three less people to accommodate for on Sunday prayer since the priest and his servers had fled into a nearby monastery when the mercenaries arrived. Actually, Sunday prayer didn’t exist anymore, instead the townspeople could enjoy a couple of good rounds of “How many chalices of wine can you drink?” Raffael’s second in command Jacip lead with 34, Shoddy Hob, or the ‘The Brit’ as some called him, who was in command the skirmishers followed with 23. Marezzo, the local smiths second son had managed to empty 35 but collapsed right after finishing it. So, obviously, that didn’t count. Moreover, according to the venerable mercenary-laws only the living could hold a record anyway, and the men of the Band of the Black Boar weren’t some kind of brutes with no respect to the ancient rules!

    Raffael stood middle of this town square which the mercenaries had used so fruitfully over the last five days, let his eyes his wander around for a short moment and then decided to walk up to a group of men playing Piket at the well, a large, square, wooden pool with buckets standing on the wooden frame.

    “So, who wants to go first”, he asked.

    The man looked at him like a newborn baby receiving the word of the gospel from its father for the first time.

    “I’m offering a sparring fight to you idiots. Fists, no weapons or amour. If I win the whole company is going to forfeit half of this month’s payment. If I lose, I’m doubling the pay for everyone, since the company could apparently so easily crush an attacking army that you don’t even net to have a watch.”

    The men - three younger boy, about the age of Raffael - armed with arming swords and long knives and squatting in a circle still didn’t seem to comprehend. Jacib appeared next to Raffael looking down on the three, then threw a glance around at the playing men. The Croatian towered over his captain almost 5 heads and Raffael looked like a child when the giant put his hand on the captain’s shoulder.

    “Let it go cap. Its a nice day and no enemy in sight. If there was some its still a nice last day.”

    He ended his three-sentence lecture with a roaring laughter. Raffael turned to his second in command, was faced with his chest and then looked up at.

    “Stop that ‘cap’ nonsense. I’m your ‘captain’, I pay you. Or do you want a go against me”, he asked flashing a challenging smile.
    “Yah –“, he examinedhis captain, paused a moment, and then said, almost pressed by his instinct:
    “Nah. I’m not that dumb. But what I mean - “

    “I’ll fight the captn”, shouted someone from the three men that had played Piket and, driven by the prospect of double pay, almost threw his body between the two. “Cant got to go a opp- oppo- ... chance like this go to nowhere else.”

    It was Casper the Dutch, not a very bright man – or boy according to most– but a good brawler who usually was among the last men standing in a good old-fashioned free-for-all first fight. He had become somewhat of a legend in the company as the one who came up with the game “Pike or boot”, which involved at least two players, two pikes, one with a boot covering the head and at least 50 civilians, monks or some other kind of captives which play the roles of the ‘bratty lads’. One of the mercenaries gets their head covered with a thick sack or some kind of cloth wrapped around their head so that they couldn’t see anything. Then the man picks one of the two pick, though he doesn’t know which is which and has to thrust it into the back of one of the ‘bratty lads’ – who either gets the pike or the boot. The player who punished the most ‘bratty lads’ without killing them wins. After that they kill all the surviving ‘bratty lads’ anyway and go drinking. They’ve only played it once so far before Raffael had joined the company. No player returned home unentertained that day – and some didn’t return home at all.

    “Is that Caspa? Pike and Boot Casp”
    “Seems so… isn’t that one of caps men…?”
    “True, joined with the captn 2 months ago. Managed to beat up Quippe.”
    “The only guy challenging the Captn is one of his men. Hilarous – Hilarioues... Funny!”

    Cap’s men… that’s how Raffael’s company called the 25 people he brought with him when he had bought the company from Jacib. He hated them less than the rest. Raffael smiled, a shiver went though his fist – if had lips they would have licked them. Some moments later a ring of cheering mercenaries had formed around two men facing each other. The only villager that was joining the merry men was the smiths third son Marazzo, who had succeeded his late brother as town drunkard and never missed a opportunity to open a bottle of celebratory wine.
    Then it went silent as the two fighters started to get closer to each other. Most men of the Band of the Black Boar had never seen their captain fight, only the original 25 that actually knew more about the captain than just “some runaway nobleman’s son”.

    Everyone leaned forward as the two fighters entered each other’s reach. The first one to move was Casper. His right fist shot forwards, too fast for most people to see. But not for his captain. Raffael dodged the throw by moving his upper body to the right, immediately aimed a blow at his opponent’s belly, but ate Casper left fist instead before it landed. Only rocking his head backwards in the last moment had saved him from loosing his teeth. He tasted blood in his mouth – whose corners were bend upwards into a wicket, utterly terrifying smile. Capser only seeing the double pay threw his entire body strength into a near-perfect blow with this right. No movement was wasted, no telegraphing – a blow that had came directly from his stance as he had twisted his hips and back just enough, engaged his shoulders no more or less than needed.
    It was fast. Ridiculously fast. As fast as a fist of someone who had practiced throwing punches thousands of times if not tens of thousands of times in his life could move.
    But Raffael dodged and landed a blow at Casper’s chest. The spectators actually gasped for a second. Raffael, their captain, had moved his entire body to the side faster than a trained fighter could move only his fist backed by his entire body weight forward. Casper fell backwards to the ground struggling to breath out as if the entire air in his lungs had been pushed out. The captain didn’t miss a moment and threw himself at the helpless man on the ground. He mounted the boy’s belly and then he started to pommel his enemy. The first punch burst open Casper’s lips, the second broke the nose, the third ensure that he wouldn’t wake up until the sun went down. But Raffael didn’t stop. With horror did the men of the Band of the Black Boar watch their captain hitting, punching, bludgeoning, endlessly tormenting one of his own men. A man he himself had brought into this company. Blood splattered. Raffael’s hand was redder than any healthy hand should be yet he still kept striking the mass of lose skin, blood and teeth that were where they shouldn’t have been. How many moments had passed? No one knew, but to the men watching it felt as though they had experienced a very long and painful birth and death at the same time.

    Marazzo had already somewhat sobered up when Raffael stood up, blood dripping from his hands and chin and the village people slowly started to wonder what was going on at the church. A child almost threw up as they saw the butchered face of the young Casper. Or rather, it wasn’t a face anymore. It was a mass of red mixed with some white. After getting over the initial shock of this sudden brutality the mercenaries started to disperse like spectators after the execution of a serial murderer – with absolute indifference. The only ones that remained were the villagers and some of the ‘original 25’ – or rather 24.
    Jacib walked up to his captain, as innocent as someone walking to the toilet in the morning.

    “Well, cap, now that that’s done... Why are you actually here? Oh, about the pay, I guess that was a joke? Yay? Or Nay?”
    The captain stared at the giant, his eyes gleamed green amidst the blood smeared on his face, the pupils were like tiny black dots carefully places in the center of two emeralds.
    “Ehh – seeing some Yays there. Classic Cap. I guess... Hope.”

    The captain sighted and looked around. Some of his man were tending to the dead man on the ground – not that there was much to tend left – while most were already playing Piket again or loitering around with their hands inside the clothes of the some peasant girls. Only the village people looked absolute horrified, their bodies seemed to scream in flight response.
    “The reason I came was … orders. Yes, we’ve got orders! By the end of the week. We’re on the march. Understood? And about the pay – no. Screw all of of you. And you in particular. You’ll get more when there are result, understood? We march east, meet up with the rest of the army and head for Parma.”

    And so, one of the first days of the Band of the Black Boar carrying the banners of Mantua passed.

  13. #13
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Despite their brutal games involving civilians, the Band of the Black Boar were obviously shocked by their captain's behaviour. I wonder if this will have consequences for their behaviour on the battlefield. Soldiers might be less willing to protect an officer who did what Raffael has done to one of his own. Good update!

  14. #14
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Jester
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    A wonderful introduction to the main character. We immediately learn that Raffael is ruthless (and perhaps a bit more bloodthirsty than is sane) and will assert his authority through the iron fist (quite literally).

    A promising beginning!

  15. #15

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Thank you for your comments. Yes, a ruthless captain can lead to mutiny or perhaps 'beat some respect' into the men. Or anything in between
    Iron fist - I didn't actually think about that for this chapter. Something like that would have made a good title. Though what I imagine what an iron fist might look like might come up in later chapter....

  16. #16

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Chapter 3: Adversus solem ne loquitor


    Most cities have a large river winding through them, giving room to beautiful promenades, the gurgling of water for young and old to savor or a quick method of removing undesired garbage. Some would even go so far to say that a proper rive is the true center of a city, not the palaces, castles, town squares or parks. A lifeline, a vein for the merchants, and a convenience for the citizens. Yes, most cities have a proud river. But Parma was not one of them.
    If the river of the same name was not running dry from the heat of the Emilia region and the unreliably rainfall, it still barely amount to a wide mountain stream from the Apennines. The Parma river had not even been an afterthought to the Mantuan army when it had started the siege of the city an a certain day in the year 1494. It became an even more irrelevant a small dam made of twigs and wooden planks built by the mercenaries prevented fresh mountain water from reaching the city and small, make-shift bridges made the river a non-factor in completing the encirclement. Around the curtain walls of the city hundreds of tents housing thousand of soldiers, their followers, craftsmen and entertainers of all kinds had been set-up. No matter in which direction a defender on the walls might have looked, a series of tent-villages protected by carts that had been linked together to create wagon-fortresses and a networks of trenches growing like roots of a tree towards the city was the only thing he’d see.

    The trenches that had been dug were manned by mercenaries wearing everything from simple gambeson with maille shirts to French brigandines and German or Italian cuirasses over padded doublets. On the other side of the wall holding Parma were mercenaries under the leadership of a certain Captain Morello Morellione who had thought the French incursion into Italy a great time to put himself on the same pedestal as the great condottiere and take over the city with his mighty army of 500 men – not by storming the city but from the inside while they had been stationed there. Not soon later stood the Margrave Francesco Gonzaga with 3000 men in front of the gates of the city and and lay siege to it, the first military action for Mantua in what would sooner be called ‘The Renaissance Wars’. So why …


    … So why was Raffael now marching his company through the summer heat in the search for some rogue men? Instead of leading a charge against the walls of Parma and taking the city in one large push from the traitorous mercenaries – probably some French vassals themselves as it was always those French! - he sat mounted on his horse overlooking the region around the town of Torchia Ta Rocco east of Parma. From inside the town’s walls in the distance rose the tower of a church in what seemed like an attempt to split the rising sun behind it in two.

    “Cap. Shoddy Hob found ‘em. Hiding in a monastery. Seems like they killed the monks. What do?”

    Raffael raised his right eyebrow at Jacib who stood next to him. He had already given up on telling the Croatian that he was the captain but still saw hope in educating him in proper intelligence reports - though he feared the mercenary, or any mercenary for that part, might be lacking the intelligence for that that. Need intelligence for intelligence. He almost laughed at his own joke. Almost. His face remained a death-mask.

    “How many enemies? I assume the monastery has some walls and they constructed barricades?”

    “Don’t know how many, but Hob said they closed off the gate with some wood. There’s also a watchtower, think they built it right after they arrived. Told Hob and Rollo to encircle them, ‘cause we outnumber them. Nice if we had a cannon though.”

    “Hmmm,” Raffael scratched his chin, “we could just take it by force. Get it over quickly and then join the main army at Parma. More enemies more fame as they say.”

    “Besides”, he added, ”I don’t think any of you want to miss the fun part of the siege.”

    “Cap, no matter how great looting in the city might be if we storm that right now we’re just gonna lose some men for nothing. Wait some days, maybe try to get something done with the gunners. Hob said he saw some crossbowmen on that watchtower too. Nasty if you don’t deal with them before the action. Should have seen them in Zvornik, back home in Croatia.”, Javob looked into the distance, recalling fights of the past, “Poor Carazos just wanted to know what was making the horses so anxious.”

    Raffael looked the other way, forced a cough and said:

    “A mercenary not caring about the loot. There’s a first for anything, it seems.”

    Jacib threw his hands up and said: “Hey, I’ve got my … what’s it called? … ‘principles’?”

    “I couldn’t care less about your principles. I still prefer this to be dealt with as fast as and ideally as swift as possible. Actually, no; I want this to be dealt with as fast as possible. Understood?”

    Jacib spit at the ground, precisely hitting the small stone he had aimed for, grimaced and answered with a rough voice:
    “Aye cap, your majesty, the king emperor of war. Less men, more pay for us I guess, eh? Don’t wanna get hit buy you after what you did to Casper.”
    “And stop that affected sarcasm. I am you captain!”

    When the two joined the rest of the company which had already spread around the hill the monastery stood on, they were greeted by Shoddy Hob. He was thin and would have almost looked frail, if it wasn’t for the brigandine he wore – though one had to wonder whether he was wearing the brigandine or the brigandine was wearing him – and the Corseque in his hand, a pole with a long blade on top, from which grew two lobes each ending in a sinister point in constant search for prey. Despite his delicate stature he could draw the heaviest bows with perfect form. He also had the sharped eyes in the company, or so Raffael was told. He allegedly could tell the different apart the color of clothes from over 200 paces away and once short a bird sitting on top of a tower. He also had an obsession with natural landscapes for some reason. Jacib saw him once setting on a tree stump staring at a valley from noon until evening. Another story went, that another man who wanted to test ‘The Brit’ once threw 12 beans into the air and Hob counted all of them within a heartbeat.

    “Hey, Jacib… and Captn...”, said Shoddy Hob, “I took the … liberty ...?... to test their defenses. No chance getting through any side but the main gate. Got a watchtower though. A pretty crappy one but as we say back home in Bristol ‘Might be crap, but its still on your shoes’”

    “Eh really”, Jacib learned forwards from his horse, “you really have sayings like that? ”

    “No, screwing with you. But they used to call me Saying-Hob back home because I was always making up new sayings. Most never caught on though.”

    “Wait, I didn’t know that. What kind of saying?”

    “Hmm, when there was a ferryman from Chippenham I knew who came to Bristol. This guy came in a new raft, right? I mean, the wood looked new and fresh and the sails were all fancy and such. To he came to Bristol over the Avon, a river, you know, going directly from Chippenham to Avon - well I guess it takes some detours, but you don’t have to change river.So he arrived there. And when I wanted to greet him I said to him ‘All roads may lead to Rome but not all rivers.’ Now guess what I meant with that. Tip: the new raft is important and the Avon.”

    “Hmm, all roads but not all river? Avon... Let me think-”

    “Just shut up already, you two! This is complete irrelevant,” Raffael almost threw himself between the two, ”Assuming from your … nonchalant behavior, our current situation can’t possibly that grave!”

    “Ah no”, Hob turned to his captain and said with no intonation whatsoever, “if we attack we’re going to lose some men.”

    “Only some?”, Raffael asked, “than what’s the problem? Takes some pawns to take a king.”

    “Only? Cap, it’s your company”, Jacib howled.

    “Is that one if your principles now or what? Its my company, and I get to decide what happens. Just do it you idiots. I’m going to lead the assault myself if necessary.”

    “Ahaaa, must be nice having some fancy plate armor. Even better to have an entire suit like t’captn.”

    Hob hugged himself, and moving his upper body left and right in a poor display of his non existing acting skill. Then, like the a summer storm appearing from nowhere his face grew dark. His surprisingly white teeth flashed from between his thin lips. They were unnaturally pointy and somehow reminded Raffael of the blade of a dagger that was suddenly drawn during a tavern fight.
    “But I guess if his majesty orders it”, an out-of-place smile slid over his face, “I’ll have the boys do some gunnery. I guess Jacib your men will give us the signal when you charge.”
    “Ye, I’ll have the men prepare… Can’t force them to like it though. Well, I guess they don’t want to get the Casper-Treatment.”
    “They don’t have to enjoy the work only the money I pay them”, Raffeal said but just when he was about to turn around he snipped his fingers, “Wait! We are going attack in late afternoon. If we approach from the east the hill and the monastery itself will cover our advance with its shadow. We can also prepare some ladders until then to get over the wall on the other side of the gate. Yes, let’s do it like this.”
    ““Genius, Cap’n...””

    Raffael called his squire Orfeo, a 13 year old Italian boy with jet-black hair and blue eyes in constant search for the next command at his master’s lips. His eyes were comically large as if their were made specifically for not missing a single one of Raffael’s movements. He was ordered to get the armor ready and with the sound of gunners firing at the monastery in the background helped Raffael with getting into the suit. Not a long while later was the captains body covered in hardened steel, only the helmet was placed in his hands. He helped Orfeo into his armor, something which seemed so out-of-character for the captain that Jacib would have undoubtedly burst out in laughter at this sight if he had been there.

    Raffael held short war hammer with a sinister spike on one side of the head while one handed sword dangled from his hip. In Orfeo’s right hand was a mace with a shaft made of iron that had been twisted and in his left a round shield enforced with steel on its rim and center. The two – both now wearing their helmets with open visors - arrived at a group of around 200 men kneeling in the grass at the foot of the hill. Most men had halberds or hammers like Raffael, some short pikes or spears, some were armed with either one or two handed swords and some had ladders that had been hastily made of spare wood. They met their captain with bored faces, though their eyes had a tint of disgust.
    Some ten paces in front of them were the skirmishers aiming their guns at the enemy watchtower under the leadership of Shoddy Hobb who was the only one without a gun. Instead he held a longbow and had the shaft of his halberd thrust into the ground, from one of the lobes that grew from it hung a quiver. According to him, the only proper way to fight the French is with a longbow which he had made himself, though to an objective onlooker he might seemed unaware to the fact that they were fighting a mix of Germans, French, Italians, English, Spanish and various groups from the Balkans, all unified by their broken Italian and a liking for mispronouncing of any loanword from each other’s language.
    French or not, Jacib came running from the group of gunners, a one handed hammer in his right hand – though one handed for him was one-and-a-half or perhaps even two-handed for everyone else – and said:

    “Told our gunners we’ll charge anytime know. They’ll stop until we’re past ‘em and then lay some covering fire on that tower. Hob said they already got some of them. The enemy’s crossbowmen didn’t get any of us so far”

    “All right then”, shouted Raffael, “Jacib, you’re going to lead the frontal assault with me. Gambino, Karlheim, Gerald! Get the ladders to the walls once we pin them down at the gate. Now, on me! Charge!”

    ‘Clack, clack, clack….’, dozens of visors closed at the same time. His men moved into a ducking position and followed their captain with a shout that reminded Raffael of a dying cow.

    "Why are they like this?"

    They passed between the gunners kneeling on the ground and switched into a jog. Then they charged.
    Last edited by theSilentKiller; January 06, 2022 at 04:01 PM.

  17. #17
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    These are two really good updates! The character development is smooth, and though these aren't people we are naturally drawn to like, you're doing an excellent job of investing the reader in them nonetheless. To put it shortly, these feel like bad guys, but bad guys I want to follow. And that is a solid mark to your abilities to tell the story well here! I also really loved the bits of levity that were added here and there: "Need intelligence for intelligence" is a great little joke, and I find that to be really cool actually, when a writer can work some natural comedy into otherwise extremely dark circumstances. Obviously, overtly trying to "lighten the mood" can backfire horribly in such cases if it's done poorly, but you executed it really well here! So many props on that! ("Might be crap, but it's still on your shoes" is another excellent one-liner! I am definitely going to start using that expression!)

    As to critique, there is one overarching thing I noticed, but before getting into it I want to give a sort of preface. The preface is that these updates are really good, they are coming in nice intervals, and you are doing an exceedingly good job with the storytelling aspects of the storytelling. I.e., you are building good characters, you've got great natural pacing here, and your choice of language and diction is spot on for dropping the reader solidly into this setting. So if any amount of editing or addressing of the following critique would hamper these things, then ignore it all! Seriously, you are making good progress on a good story, and if seeking perfection will hinder that progress, then screw perfection!

    Now to the critique: while you are doing all of the natural flowing aspects of storytelling really well, I am finding lots of typos and misplaced words. For the most part, these can just be read over and there is a natural way to intuitively correct things in my head as I go along. However, there are some spots where the misplaced words confuse me long enough to jar me out of the rhythm of your writing, or where there are enough little typos in quick succession that it presents an irritant. To remedy all that, I think you just need to give the text one read-through before posting to find them. And I would strongly suggest reading it aloud to yourself! It might seem odd, but I always find 100% more errors when I read aloud than when I read in my head.

    That's the only critique I have though, and as I said, if addressing means losing any of your tempo of writing, or hindering your progress in the least, then ignore the critique for now (and maybe only do editing when all is finished). Cause seriously, this is the best work I've seen from you, and I am itching to see it unfold!
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  18. #18
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Like Kilo, I'm enjoying your characters, particularly Shoddy Hob. I wonder how effective the gunnery will be - if we're in the 1490s, presumably these are early firearms (matchlock muskets?). Even if the gunnery isn't very accurate, Raffael's warhammer sounds like a formidable weapon. Good update!

  19. #19

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kil011
    These are two really good updates! The character development is smooth, and though these aren't people we are naturally drawn to like, you're doing an excellent job of investing the reader in them nonetheless. To put it shortly, these feel like bad guys, but bad guys I want to follow. And that is a solid mark to your abilities to tell the story well here! I also really loved the bits of levity that were added here and there: "Need intelligence for intelligence" is a great little joke, and I find that to be really cool actually, when a writer can work some natural comedy into otherwise extremely dark circumstances. Obviously, overtly trying to "lighten the mood" can backfire horribly in such cases if it's done poorly, but you executed it really well here! So many props on that! ("Might be crap, but it's still on your shoes" is another excellent one-liner! I am definitely going to start using that expression!)

    As to critique, there is one overarching thing I noticed, but before getting into it I want to give a sort of preface. The preface is that these updates are really good, they are coming in nice intervals, and you are doing an exceedingly good job with the storytelling aspects of the storytelling. I.e., you are building good characters, you've got great natural pacing here, and your choice of language and diction is spot on for dropping the reader solidly into this setting. So if any amount of editing or addressing of the following critique would hamper these things, then ignore it all! Seriously, you are making good progress on a good story, and if seeking perfection will hinder that progress, then screw perfection!

    Now to the critique: while you are doing all of the natural flowing aspects of storytelling really well, I am finding lots of typos and misplaced words. For the most part, these can just be read over and there is a natural way to intuitively correct things in my head as I go along. However, there are some spots where the misplaced words confuse me long enough to jar me out of the rhythm of your writing, or where there are enough little typos in quick succession that it presents an irritant. To remedy all that, I think you just need to give the text one read-through before posting to find them. And I would strongly suggest reading it aloud to yourself! It might seem odd, but I always find 100% more errors when I read aloud than when I read in my head.

    That's the only critique I have though, and as I said, if addressing means losing any of your tempo of writing, or hindering your progress in the least, then ignore the critique for now (and maybe only do editing when all is finished). Cause seriously, this is the best work I've seen from you, and I am itching to see it unfold!
    Thank you for your constructive criticism and honest comment! Admittedly, I'm too dependent on what my word processor finds but I'll be more careful during re-reads to catch spelling mistakes (or rather, re-read sometimes solely for this rather than thinking about what is being written). To be honest, it's a bit frustrating how awkward writing had become for me (as in, I've been producing awkward writing) - not only have I written much but also haven't read much in English the past few years and I find myself more often that I used to (at least it feels like that) translating some expressions from my native lang. here and there in my head than actually *write in English* Though I have hopes that might improve with more writing

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn
    Like Kilo, I'm enjoying your characters, particularly Shoddy Hob. I wonder how effective the gunnery will be - if we're in the 1490s, presumably these are early firearms (matchlock muskets?). Even if the gunnery isn't very accurate, Raffael's warhammer sounds like a formidable weapon. Good update!
    Yes, the cannons and the of the 1490s were that accurate, though some people underestimate them too much. Aiming and hitting targets fairly consistently hit a human sized target up to about 30 meters was possible with the technology at that time and skirmished weren't fought over large distances. Common guns were either more advanced hand cannons and arquebuses which were derived from hand cannons (but also existed at the same time for some time... the 1490s must have been crazy times.) Much more problematic for the gunners was armor. Cuirasses became more available to the common man and pretty much any piece of plate armor could block a bullet up to a very short range. But true - a simple hammer with armor might be a more reliable load-out.

  20. #20

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Chapter 4: A monastery


    A depiction of a 'Murder Stroke' from the Codex Wallerstein



    They switched into a jog when they passed the gunners. The air was warm and the shadows started to stretch long over the dry earth. For a moment it seemed as if everything was going well. Then Raffael realized a flaw in his strategy. Or rather a flaw in the execution. The cover the shadow of the hill gave wasn't nearly as good as he had thought and the sun stood higher than anticipated. Not only were they now exposed to the enemy's sight they also had the sun right in front of them until they reached the gate. The hill had seemed larger during the day and-, Raffael though while squinting but then-
    - then the bolts came. The first had been aimed at the man in the shiny armor in the first line of the charging men. It glanced off the top of the captain's helmet. The second went for the huge man slightly behind the shining man. 'Fiiiii- yum' it went into his enormous shield. Raffael feared for the worst. That they would get caught in a shower of bolts and arrows. That they would just be shot down one by one before reaching the monastery. Then the gunners at the flanks behind them opened fire, the thunder of over a dozen guns rolled over the hillside. But before Raffael could check whether any enemy got hit they already were at the wooden gate. Had they been this close to the monastery this whole time? Or was his sense of time just off? The world didn't seem to give the captain of the Band of the Black Boar a pause to search the answers to these questions as he realized a second flaw in his strategy. A fatal one.
    "Now what", asked Jacib smiling with a condescending, almost scorning smile

    Now what? Raffael forgot. He bashed the gate with his hammer but nothing happened.

    "If the cap keeps knocking like this some monks might open and give us some alms", roared one of the men that arrived at the gate. Laughter. The ones who had brought shields were covering their comrades while pressing their own bodies against the walls. Men were pushing against each other trying to fit under the roof of shields and wooden planks.
    Protected against the crackling of the covering fire from the foot of the hill the laughter rang even louder in Raffael's ears despite the helmet he wore. He got angry, hammered even stronger against the gate, pressed against it with his entire weight, kicked it but no matter how much more of a fool he made himself look it was apparently not the key for opening that door. Even worse, he was being covered by his own men while doing it! Where had he gone wrong? He though and though. Perhaps he should have used the covering fire to bring the ladders to the wall? Or maybe they should have build wooden ramps? But that would have taken too long. Inside the walls were just some dumb mercenaries! There had to be a way to defeat the quickly. The more he though the angrier he got, the stronger he started to hammer against the wood.

    "Alright, let's end this."
    Jacib hauled off and then struck the gate. It had thick, study wood. It was the kind of wood people with the safety of the monks in mind would haven chosen. Moreover, it had been enforced by the defenders on the other side with furniture and whatever else that they had found.

    Yet, despite this. Despite the study wood. Despite the reinforcements. Despite common logic.

    It broke with one swing of the Jacib's mace. The head went right through the wood ripping a hole into the gate and splinters went flying when it was pulled out. And then another strike. And then another, another. For the first time in his life Raffael was truly ... stunned, astounded, perplexed. No word he knew could have described the feeling of absolute disbelief he felt at that moment. His entire world was reduced to this one gate, the giant standing right in front of him and the mace in the giant's hand. The cracking of wood drowned the shouting men, the crackling guns in the distance, it even won against blood rushing in his ears. He suddenly felt small, not because Jacib was towering at least four heads over him but because his entire understanding of the world and the physical limits of humans disintegrated. What unfolded at the gate of a monastery somewhere in Italy that day should have been impossible. No human should have had this much strength. But when Jacib threw his massive body against the gate ... burst open.

    Then came the enemy counter charge. As if waking up from an odd dream Raffael suddenly snapped back to reality. The noise of charging men came over him like a wave. He suddenly felt stupid for ever forgetting himself like that just because of some dumb mercenary breaking open a gate. And he smiled. From here on he knew exactly how the world worked. Looking a the charging enemy right in front of him he tightened the grip on the shaft of his hammer.

    ***

    A mass of men and metal crashed against a wall of shields and spears as the mercenaries of the Band of the Black Boar squeezed through the gate of the monastery. As one of the few with full plate armor, Raffael stood right in the middle of the fighting, battering the helmet of the man in front of him. His world was reduced to whatever light the two slits of his visor let through and his own breathing that nearly drowned the cacophony of clashing steel and shouting men from the outside of his shell. He struck and hit and smashed and broke whatever was in front of him - how many times had he raised his war hammer only to have it come done crashing on someone? He did not know. The only thing he knew was that he had to kill whatever came in front of him. If he didn't strike he would get struck. And just when he though that the seemingly endless hordes of men in front of him made of an endless number of faceless figures would never end it started to thin out.
    Then it broke. Raffael almost fell forward, managed to catch himself with his right foot and instinctively started to sprint into the inner court of the monastery. Someone with a kettle helmet and a one-handed sword jumped into his field of vision. Then he was dead on the ground with a spear through the chest. Raffael was pushed to the left forcing him to his knees. A shadow appeared right in front of him. A sharp, metal point shot suddenly towards him. Still on one knee, he managed to push the sword aside. Not giving the man even the chance to wind up for a second attack Raffael lunged forward towards the man while jumping up at the same time. He tackled him, overpowered him with sheer strength backed by the weight of his armor and started to pummel the man's face with his 'gauntleted' hand until it no longer was a face. Something coming from the left glanced off his spaulder the moment he managed to stand up. While turning around Raffael flailed at whatever it was and someone's facial bones broke. Stumbling forward he made it to the wall of a small stone building. He tried to open visor of his helmet, almost was overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness as the mechanism to unfix it was stuck, eventually managed to forced it open and greedily sucked in the evening air. Screaming, shouting, steel hitting steel and cheering - all of these sounds suddenly came over him like a wave over a drowning man desperate to keep his head over water.
    Opposite of the building he leaned against was what seemed to be the main hall of the monastery. Men were aiming with crossbows out of the windows of the first floor, someone in plate armor charged two men with halberds holding the entrance. Dozens lay on the ground either dead or squirming with pain, some knelt in front of one of Raffael's men with their hands raised in surrender. Jacib appeared next to him so suddenly Raffael had to wonder how a man as large as his Second in Command could have done that without using some kind of evil magic.

    "Guess we won. Their cap is still in the main hall. Methinks hethinks they can hold out in there until the night. Guess waiting for their surrender is not an option?"
    "No! We defeat them now and use the last hours of sunlight to prepare for departure to Parma tomorrow morning. I'll charge into the hall myself and kill their captain. We can't be bothered with prisoners, they'll just slow us down and nobody is going to pay the ransom for them anyway. Besides, it's not as if someone is going to cry over some mercenaries."
    "I mean... we also are 'some mercenaries'"
    "And you think anyone's going to cry for you once you're dead?"
    "As friendly as ever, eh? Also... there's a girl in a village close to Sarajevo that always called me her 'Lord lo-'"
    "Don't care. I'll take Orfeo or Karlheim and charge into that building... though I think they already managed to get in. Pack everything you can find and prepare the camp. I don't plan on spending a single night in this place. And kill the prisoners. Understood?"
    "Aye. But I go no problems sleeping here. Nice cozy and's warm. But eh. Everyone to his own, I guess"

    After closing the visor of his helmet in order to put an end to the conversation Raffael trudged towards the main building. The door was wide open and when he entered he could hear fighting from somewhere to the right. Passing through a room with several dead mercenaries he eventually reached a large dining hall. A row of tables split the hall in two, a fireplace was still heating the hall from one side while the other side was occupied by fighting men. Raffael charged with his war hammer raised over his shoulder into a group of about ten men lost in what seemed to be a free-for all. Among them he saw the armor of Orfeo, pushed past the boy who blocked someone's mace with his shield and sunk the spike of his hammer into the throat of a man hacking away on someone sitting on the floor. Blood splattered onto the captain as the man fell. Without hesitating even a moment Raffael slid past him before the body even touched the ground. Someone wearing an open faced helmet with a large yellow feather growing from it and a metal cuirass took notice of Raffael and lunged at him while striking with his long sword. Raffael blocked the attack with his hammer, led the sword slide off and started to bash his opponent's helmet before he even could react.

    "Captain", someone shouted and charged Raffael from the right. Another from the left lunged at him and both started to shower him with their maces. Raffael was forced down to his knees while shielding himself as best as he could with his left arm. The man with the feathered helmet suddenly stood in front of him holding his sword on the blade with both of his hands raised over his head. He struck and the quillon of the guard hit Raffael's shoulder like a hammer - a murder stroke. Something inside the joint made an unhealthy screeching noise. He started to feel dizzy as he knelt on one knee on the ground while enduring the strikes and pain in his entire left arm and shoulder. Where was Orfeo? Jacib? Or any of the people he paid!? A pain flared up inside his shoulder every time he was hit, his vision became blurry. He looked up at the three men in front of him as he tried his best to shield himself with his arms.
    And then.
    He saw the same face trice. A skinny, almost skeleton like face with a smile that could only be described as comically evil. Green emeralds shone bright where the eyes should have been. As if he watching from afar he saw a man with this face striking at a young boy in armor with a wooden stick. A single though crept into his fading consciousness: He had to kill. He had to kill that man and everyone else who wore this face! Instinct took over. He flailed his hammer upwards despite his shoulder screaming in pain. The head crushed the hand of the man to the right as he was about to strike again. Raffael almost threw his hammer at the other captain ... who simply dodged it. But while one man was screaming in pain holding his broken hand, another was dodging and the third was pausing for a moment Raffael jumped up to and moved his hand to his sword in one smooth motion. Everything was covered in red and black.
    Then he cut from left to right. Fast. Absurdly fast.
    ***

    Orfeo watched as his captain jump up. One moment Raffael was drawing his sword, the next moment his right arm was stretched to right pointing at the wall. Time seemed frozen. Then the heads of the three men fell to the ground. Blood sprayed from their necks as their bodies slowly crumbled to the ground. Orfeo didn't understand for a moment what had happened. Then it dawned him. Something so absurd, unrealistic, farfetched, detached from reality it almost made him sick. Raffael had cut through the necks of three men while drawing his sword.

    ***


    As if waking up from a dream Raffael looked around confused and found the hall to be dead silent. Next to Orfeo stood someone from the company looking at their captain. He didn't say anything - he just stared.
    Raffael left the building staggering through the rooms as his legs were unsteady and he almost tripped at the door. Outside he saw Jacib kneeling next to a dead body.

    "We lost 16. 12 at the gate and 4 here. The enemy had absolutely no experience. Some where as if they held weapons for the first time. Guess that's why it was so easy."

    Around them men were being executed with whatever weapon the executioners had at their hands. The setting sun disappearing behind the mountains as if to hide from the atrocity.
    Some men just stood there. Staring. Their eyes seemed to pierce his bloodied armor.

    "Didn't even have any loot", Jacib said and added scratching his head: "That was kind of a waste."
    "Just 16. We can always hire more men. Moreover, I already told earlier you to get the men ready to march by morning."
    "Just-?! Cap-", his face turned red but then he breathed out and said calmly: "Yes, can always hire more men but can't hire new comrades."
    "Is a mercenary trying to preach to me about friendship and what not?"
    "Nah. A man twice your age and with more experience in his right hand than you have in your entire body is telling you that losing men that everyone knew and could work with for nothing is a waste."
    He threw another glance at the shadows around him carrying bodies in the now near darkness of the young night.
    "But I guess your hammer was a bit thirsty, eh?"
    "..."

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