During the day part of turn ten, our heroes mourn their fallen and head for the Shadow Tower campaign area for the first time. Click through for Dwarves in Dungeons!
After a somber morning ceremony to bury Captain Anton of the Kislevites, the townsfolk of Nachtdorf and our heroes grimly set about surviving another day. The heroes decided to send a large force of warriors to an area not yet at explored at all: SchattenTurm – the Shadow Tower. This ruined tower at the edge of Shadow Wood supposedly was once the abode of a Necromancer, and has been avoided for decades. It would seem a good location for Strangulf to secure one of his coffins.
Captain Diedrich, leader of the few Ostermark soldiers defending Nachtdorf, pulled the heroes aside and gave them a short briefing on the area. He lost several men to the tower before leading his few remaining followers to Nachtdorf. He informed the remaining captains (Martin now taking over the Kisilevites) that a magical device in the ruin acts as a gate into a dungeon, along with a general layout of the area.
Two of the halfling scouts stayed behind to search for supplies around town. Father McManus (hired Sigmarite warrior priest) stayed to protect an additional room from vampires, and Sister Isolde, crippled with a smashed leg and a chest wound, stayed to direct work on a siege defense weapon. The rest of the player heroes headed to SchattenTurm.
Initial forces included three Ghouls, three Ghasts, three Rats, four Grave Guard, two Seneschals, three Spiders, a Fell Bat, and two Dire Wolves. The two Dwarf Trollslayers, KillMeNow and IDieSoon, setup right at the entrance to the ruined tower, using an ability gained from the exploration roll of the previous scenario. The plan, suspiciously suggested by Torian the Elf, was to get them into the dungeon early to begin looking for coffins below ground. The Trollslayers found themselves unable to resist this plan, despite its elfly origins.
The rest of our forces came in along the long western board edge, mostly in one big mass near the ruined tower, but another small group lined up near a ruin containing a possible above-ground coffin.
With the first turn, the western forces simply advanced onto the board. The group near the ruin moved at regular speed and hid, hoping to search for their coffin quietly without attracting attention. The two trollslayers entered the stairs leading down to the first floor of the dungeon. There were a few missile shots from the main hero force against nearby ghouls and a spider, all missing.
In the first Vampire Forces turn, the Spider on the southern flank charged Kislevite Youth Sergey, but failed to wound him. Other undead loped, scittered, or ran towards any heroes they could see.
In player turn two, Sister Winifred counter-charged the Spider threatening Sergey and took it out, while a large group of models on the northern part of the formation stood their ground an fired a mass of various missiles at incoming undead, somehow either all missing or failing to wound. The small group of warriors searching for a coffin in the ruin succeeded, but the located coffin turned out to be empty. The Trollslayers began exploring the dungeon. Over the course of the scenario, they would locate a fair amount of loot in the dungeon but manage to trigger almost no encounters, so we will set them aside from the report for the moment.
With the first Vampire Forces reinforcements roll for turn two, Michael W. managed to roll up Strangulf himself! The lead villain entered from the southwestern corner of the board, just across a waterfall from the large group of player heroes. On his first turn on the board, Strangulf attempted to leap over this gap, but failed, and fell into the rapidly churning water. This would delay him from coming to grips with the players, much to our relief, and much to the master vampire’s embarrassment. The only other action during this undead turn was a ghoul charging new Kislevite henchmen Josef, stunning him.
On player turn three, the main hero forces charged approaching undead on their left flank, while attempting to push forward through woods to get to the ruined tower with the main force. Kislevite Misha, Sister Salyra, and Dwarf Popsi each took a Ghast out of action, while Mother Madira successfully cast her first Soulfire of a Coffin Hunt during the campaign and took out a Grave Guard.
There were no reinforcements during Vampire Forces turn three, but undead that had been moving towards the sounds of combat since the beginning of the scenario began to hit the player lines. Kislevite Timofey took a Seneschal out of action, Frito and Spam combined to take out a Ghoul, and Mother Madira punished a charging Grave Guard with a whip crack, sending it out of the battle. The allies took their first loss, though, with Sister Salyra falling to a charging Seneschal.
On player turn four, the allies counter-charged, attempting to clear the area once and for all so that the dungeon could be reached by more than just the Trollslayers. Big Boss and Spam combined to take out a hated Spider, and Sister Hildegarde punished a Grave Guard with a whip crack, sending it’s bones flying. The Kislevite Bear roared and charged a Dire Wolf, sending it out of the battle. Sister Veronica further thinned the undead numbers, bashing a Grave Guard out of action with her Sigmarite Hammer.
Vampire Forces turn four rapidly turned the player fortunes for the worse, as Strangulf finally emerged from the stream, dripping and rather angry. In addition, a Minor Vampire, four Spiders, and two Zombies appeared on the board as reinforcements – the Spiders in charge range of the player lines. Strangulf flung three souls from his Cloak of Souls at the player lines, taking Kislevite Stepan out of action, knocking Kislevite Pyotr down from the tower hill (stunning him), and also knocking the Dwarf Engineer Sparks off the hill. Souls from the swirling cloak constitute by far Strangulf’s nastiest attack, allowing him multiple powerful missile strikes.
Below the hill, acounter-charging Dire Wolf took the Kislevite bear out of action, and Sister Simone was taken out of action by a Seneschal. A Spider caught Frito in its jaws and sent him out of action, and fellow Dwarf Spam also fell to a Spider. The losses continued to mount, as Timofey was dropped by a Fell Bat. Big Boss and Misha countered by taking out a Spider and the Minor Vampire respectively, but the damage was done. Six allied warriors out in one turn!
The players topside held on for one more turn to complete a last coffin search, and then voluntarily routed at the top of turn six (sustaining no additional losses). The two Dwarf Trollslayers exploring the dungeon held on for the duration of the allowed time, finding a pile of loot and very little in the way of monsters (encounters in the dungeon may need some adjustment)!
In post scenario roles, we discovered that Timofey and Frito were both fatalities. This took our total casualties for the campaign up to five: three Kislevites (including their original Captain), and two Dwarves (both henchmen). The Sisters have suffered no losses, but I have one champion with a sucking chest wound and a smashed leg (Sister Isolde), who I will probably refuse to replace even if I get another Lad’s Got Talent roll.
With Town Morale at three, Strangulf having Full Influence and commiserate campaign rewards in two of the four game areas where he can gain Influence, with only one of the four coffins located and destroyed that we need to account for to force him into an endgame scenario, and with half of the campaign turns expired, things are looking very very grim. Somehow over the course of the next eight or nine campaign turns we must locate and destroy three of the remaining four coffins, keep Morale from dropping to zero, and not lose many more experienced heroes whom we will need when we have to face Strangulf down in his lair.
To make this more difficult, with half the campaign turns gone we have had only one Night Attack on the town, which means that the second half of the campaign will feature several of these. While we have built the defenses of the town up over the past turns, and will be a very difficult nut for assaulting forces to crack, the night attacks still interrupt player warrior rest, which makes it harder to go out on the coffin hunts we so desperately need to succeed in the daytime hours. The only good aspect of increased night attacks is that since we are likely to win them, Morale of the town will rise. At the moment, it appears if we lose, it will most likely be because we fail to eliminate Strangulf’s remaining coffins. The only other way we can win is to slay Strangulf himself, and that is unlikely. Even if taken out of action, he will only be roughly a one in six to die.
There are a few tweaks to the campaign rules that I will make to give the players more opportunities to raise Morale, and to make the Coffin Hunts somewhat easier.
We have a long list of ideas for Coffin Hunt balancing, and have voted on them. The most popular is a very simple and sensible change suggested by Michael Weaver: only allow reinforcing Vampire Forces models to charge on their first turn if they are either a command model (such as a Vampire), or are within the “Direct Undead” range of a command model. This will limit the number of models that can appear on the board at the beginning of a Vampire Forces turn and immediately charge player models before they have time to react to the appearance of the new enemy models. Several other changes will be considered as well, and the random dungeon rules for SchattenTurm will be reworked considerably.
All of these changes should appear in the 1.3 version of the rules, hopefully posted sometime in early to mid February. My next chore, though, is to get the current 1.2 version of the rules posted here.
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!