The town of Nachtdorf, in fear of vampires as the sun goes down. Click through for a report of our first weekend playing this new campaign for the Mordheim game.
We began a new cooperative Mordheim campaign on Halloween weekend, very seasonally themed: The Vampire Hunters. It is really an Empire in Flames campaign, as it is set in southern Ostermark in and around a town named Nachtdorf, some miles from Mordheim. The year is 2009, roughly a year before Vlad Von Carstein explodes upon the Empire from his stronghold in Sylvania.
The plot for the campaign is that the town hires several warbands from Mordheim to protect them from the forces of a powerful Sylvanian vampire who has recently made his nest near the World’s Edge mountains. The civil war has left no central authority to help them.
There are two ways to win the campaign. The players can slay Strangulf, the principal vampire, or they can force him to retreat from the area by locating and purifying the five coffins he brought with him to Ostermark that contain his native soil from the far East. Players can lose the campaign in three ways: More than twenty campaign turns expire, the morale of the town drops from ten to zero, or the number of townspeople or warriors bitten by vampires rises to thirty. There are six game areas in the campaign where scenarios are played.
The campaign rules are written over the top of Empire in Flames mechanics, and combine roleplay, boardgame, and of course standard Mordheim skirmish styles of play. I will try to get the rules and campaign accessories published to this blog by early December. At this point, since we’ve just started the first play trial of the campaign, we are still making tweaks.
During the first weekend we finished three and a half of the twenty possible campaign turns and played three skirmish scenarios. I was playing Sisters of Sigmar, Mike Kingsbury Kislevites, and Michael Stamps Dwarf Treasure Hunters.
We played one prequel scenario. As the warbands and a guide the town sent to hire us (Gustav, a kislevite spy and scout) reached Nachtdorf, we found the town under attack from the Vampire Forces. I purposefully made this a light assault, to give the players a bit of a head start. There was a catapult manned by a few grave guard, and a cairn wraith as the primary heavies. The wraith proved the most dangerous of the opponents, taking several models out of action before warriors with magical weapons could be brought to bear on it. The only fatality was a Dwarf henchman that was taken out of action by a warg on the back side of the town, fighting alongside Sisters. The townspeople buried him respectfully on a small hill near the town.
For the first formal campaign turn, all the player warriors and town NPCs stayed in town. Each turn is divided into a day phase and a night phase, and there are a number of actions that can be performed in the day to shore up the town’s defenses. The players worked on repairing the town walls, training civilians to add to the town militia, and exploring the town and immediate area for supplies. During the night, we hunkered down and guarded the town, with a few civilians waking up the next morning pale and lethargic (a couple of bitten).
More campaign turns follow the photo album spread!
During the day of the second campaign turn, a mix of player warriors from all three warbands went to a nearby hillside cemetery, Hugel Friedhof, where our Kislevite scout Gustav believed one of Strangulf’s coffins might be squirreled away. The party had its first encounter with one of the Vampire Forces Heroes during this outing, Bonecaller, Strangulf’s chief necromancer. A Coffin Hunt scenario has twelve coffins on the board, which may be empty, contain treasure, or contain a sleeping vampire. One could even be one of Strangulf’s coffins, and even if he is not sleeping in it, that allows the players the opportunity to ruin one of his resting spots.
The party would manage to search four coffins, with only a few models taken out of action, before time expired on the Coffin Hunt. A minor vampire was found sleeping in a coffin, but the press of monsters in the area did not afford the players an opportunity to stake the creature through the heart. Bonecaller was taken out of action, however, and suffered an injury to his hand that will lower his weapon skill in future encounters.
Vampire Hunters includes some new items and random treasure tables. In addition to the standard Empire in Flames “Treasures” (the equivalent of wyrdstone), players may find items or cold hard cash during exploration or as scenario rewards. After the first coffin hunt, one of the highlights of the weekend was the discovery of a random magical weapon: A Squig Herder of Light. After some speculation amongst the heroes as to what this could possibly have been used for, the decision was made to be sure to handle it with gloves and sell it at the first opportunity.
On the third day, the party went on another Coffin Hunt to a ruined town in a nearby forest, Schattenwald. In addition to undead, this area is infested with web spitting giant spiders. The party found four civilians had been offered by Strangulf as a bribe to get the spiders completely on his side, and had an opportunity to rescue those civilians in addition to searching coffins during the scenario.
While two of the civilians would be rescued, intense fighting resulted in the players routing with five models out of action. Fortunately there were no fatalities, just a minor nervous condition for Sister Hildegard, one of the Sisters of Sigmar heroes. Four coffins were explored, and some treasure discovered, but no sleeping vampires.
The fourth day was spent entirely in town, shoring up defenses again and sending Sister Isolde to the local town of Burgenhof to shop for common items and a hired sword. A shopping trip action takes two campaign turns to complete, so Sister Isolde will not return with her purchases until the night phase of the fifth campaign turn.
At the end of the weekend, the vampire’s “Influence Points” in the area totaled four. Two in Schattenwald, one in Hugel Friedhof, and one in Bachmeir Baurenhof (a nearby farmstead with both an orc bandits and a banshee problem). The Influence mechanic reflects the vampire’s growing presence in the region. When he reaches three influence in a campaign area, he gains an especially powerful ally. In addition, as influence grows the monsters in scenarios become more numerous and powerful.
The number of bitten at the end of the weekend was only two out of thirty, so that aspect of the game is well in hand at this point. Town morale is still quite good, at nine, having lowered only one point due to the coffin hunt route on turn three.
Next play session hopefully in December, beginning with the night phase of turn four.