Forbidden texts

Posted by  | Wednesday, November 23, 2011  at 1:03 AM  

Reading from profane tomes is guaranteed to end badly for any scribe. Agents of the Sigmarite church torch libraries and slay the collectors of dark lore. Despite the risk of a torturous execution the knowledge contained within forbidden books is prized by necromancers, warlocks, physicians, playwrights, adventurers and inhuman lore-seekers.

The best way of preparing Mordheim campaigns in unique settings is hard research and I was recently asked for reading recommendations by a fellow gamer. As I'm gearing up to be entertained this March by authors of Warhammer fiction at the Black Library Live event held in Nottingham on the Warhammer World site it's a topical subject to blog about. My small library of accumulated tomes is pictured above.

Where do you begin when there are now so many Warhammer books in circulation! There is only limited background information available in the Warhammer Armies series. Most of these concentrate on military activity because that is the nature of the Warhammer game. Because of he limited scope in core game releases I find it is best to delve deeper into the game background... After all, in Mordheim the main characters can be soldiers but most often they are adventurers!

I choose some releases to read as a fact-finding exercise. This can be illuminating and I've got into the habit of making all kinds of crazy notes (was on scraps of paper, now iPhone then straight to laptop) based on what turns up! Some books I select for pleasure because I like an authors previous work. To anyone who isn't familiar with the Black Library authors I would suggest buying a couple of good short story anthologies. These present an excellent choice. You will quickly discover which authors stories appeal most to you. Each fellow reader I speak to has different favourites based on what themes they find the most entertaining.

A word of caution; sometimes fantastic books are tricky to track down! Luckily the best stories tend to be reissued through the Black Library's supply-on-demand initiative, or omnibus format in the case of trilogies. Here are my personal recommendations of the best publications without too much in the way of spoilers. My six favourite Warhammer novel releases from Black Library;

Brunner the Bounty Hunter by CL Werner
Herr Werner has produced several faithful tales elaborating on fan-favourite characters tied to the game background. I would thoroughly recommend the Grey Seer Thanquol series (3rd book released later in 2011) and the Warhammer Heroes release depicting the barbaric escapades of Wulfrik Worldwalker. My favourite stories from CL are some of those where all new characters of his own invention have been introduced! Runefang and The Chaos Wastes series are all grand accomplishments in fantasy storytelling by the pulp-influenced author. The Witch Hunter Matthias Thulmann and his side-kick Streng have been immortalised in Warhammer lore but the crown jewel in Werner's collection is Brunner.

Brunner is no ordinary bounter hunter. He's a complicated character. An elite hired sword with patience, a unique moral code, a mysterious past coupled to a curious agenda. The adventures of Brunner were (finally!) collated into an omnibus release. The Bounty Hunter visits unusual settings, notably the Tilean city states. This makes for some delightful entertainment and colourful descriptive work courtesy of Werner's imaginative insight and informative research of the southern nation. One of Werner's strengths is his ability to pen engaging action sequences! He always pumps a lot of physical activity in and the fighting is extraordinarily real in his books! CL recently adapted his quill to tackle the 40K universe and I sincerely hope he doesn't get too wrapped up in the warp because his illustrations of the Old World are second to none.

The Vampire Genevieve by Jack Yeovil
The vampire Geneviève Dieudonné is a heroine. Something of an unusual statement given the reputation of bloodsuckers in the Warhammer game background. Kim Newman (aka Jack Yeovil) brought us the delicious Geneviève in the early days of Warhammer fiction. Worth noting is that a lot of BL authors cite Newman's work as an influence. Indeed the impresario Detlef Sierck (greatest playwright and actor the world has ever known) seems to be name-checked in subtext more times than any other character in Warhammer history except perhaps Karl Franz. The Emperor himself makes a cameo appearance in Drachenfels (book one) along with esteemed members of his royal court.

The omnibus release, now out-of-print I believe, is still available on the shelves of most decent bookstores. It comprises of 3 novels and 5 short stories. The continuity of the stories might been interpreted as jumbled. My vamp-loving little sister complained that the main character herself is less and less involved as the adventure unfolds. In fact, the author does some decidedly tricky juggling of sub-plots and characters. It's like he gets caught in a tangent involving an event, only then he terminates that tangent yet sees fit to return (us) to it through some nagging temptation to explore the sub-plot with a detailed explanation. It's bizarre and sensational all at once. I recommend this, even if you don't like vampire stories, Beasts in Velvet and the shorts The Warhawk and The Ignorant Armies are amongst the best Warhammer fiction you will ever read.

Zavant by Gordon Rennie
Now long since out-of-print, Gordon Rennie's 2002 release was a prime contribution to the Black Library legacy. 'A Zavant Konniger novel' promises murder and intrigue in the savage world of Warhammer. It never fails to deliver on its pledge! Konniger, a sage-detective and an ex-priest of Sigmar is faithfully assisted in his murder investigations by his halfling manservant Vido. The scholarly Konniger acts as a private investigator and being as he's received training in the martial arts of the east the aging sleuth is more than capable of looking after himself in a scrap!

The novel is divided into four parts, or 'cases'. The first two cases are short stories. The third case is longer. The fourth case is longest but the book only weighing in at 285 pages leaves the reader craving another hit! Thankfully I discovered a fifth case in the excellent short stories anthology 'Swords of the Empire' but since 2004 there has been no sign given that the sage-detective will return. Quite frustrating is that numerous other cases are imaginatively referenced by Rennie in the publisher notes of the Nuln University Press as lost or incomplete works. Rennie is one of the least prolific authors in Black Library's stable. This is a damn shame! Reviewing my favourite releases reminds me I ought to petition Black Library to commission Gordon Rennie; to retrieve the untold cases of Zavant Konniger from the forbidden archives of the Unseen Library*.

*I am absolutely convinced Konniger, of all Warhammer characters, would maintain 'lay-reader' membership to the mysterious Marienburg repository of forbidden lore.

Sword of Justice by Chris Wraight
I wasn't aware that I'd read anything by this author when I picked up the first release from the Warhammer Heroes series. As it turns out I did read 'The Judgement of Crows', a short featured in 'Death & Dishonour' which happens to be the latest Warhammer Anthology to be published. I believe Chris Wraight must be a new hired quill! Having already read the heroic Norse romp that is Wulfrik, this book had big footsteps to follow in. Funnily, I only grabbed the novel because I was stuck in Taunton with a couple of hours to kill. The telling of this tale is exceptional!

The main plot concerns the selection and eventual crowning of a new Elector Count in Averland. The task falls to the Emperor's Champion, Ludwig Schwartzhelm (much to his dismay). I'm familiar with the circumstances surrounding the province from tit-bits of information read elsewhere. Even so, for what one might assume to be a fairly cut and shut military-themed story, this adventure was loaded with intrigue. Without spoiling the readers experience I will only mention that there are a lot of outstanding back-room scenes. The highlight from this read was a special character who works exclusively for Ludwig. By no co-incidence the third Warhammer Heroes release is a sequel to this story. The follow-on concerns Kurt Helborg. Presumably continuing to explore the rivalry of these two differing personalities to a fitting conclusion. I can't wait for the imminent release of 'Sword of Vengeance' and would definitely like to buy the author a beer for his trouble when we get to Bugman's!

The Adventures of Florin & Lorenzo by Robert Earl
It's a challenging task to select a favourite book by each of my favorite authors. The toughest call was made choosing a Robert Earl novel. Earl has a brand new novel set in Hochland being released in the coming months. All of his stuff is entertaining, spine-tingling and it is romantic in the telling! His writing tone is distinct amongst Black Library authors. Comedic moments seem more common yet Earl's sinister humour is justified in a stylish symphony that 'feels really Warhammer'. In the end it was a toss up between the chilling Strigany tale of vampirism that is 'Ancient Blood' and the swashbuckling hijinks of Florin & Lorenzo.

Florin & Lorenzo are a pair of risk-taking Bretonnian adventurers. Being such bold adventurers the duo suffer none of the predictable moral dilemmas of your usual knightly characters from their home nation. Their dangerlust is a breath of fresh air because it leads them into daring romps across the Warhammer world to exotic locales. There is now an omnibus release collecting the three novels together with the short stories (including phenomenal tale 'Haute Cuisine') which is fantastic for anyone who didn't go on a jolly with them upon the initial releases.

There is odd synergy between the two characters. Lorenzo is initially meant to be Florin's manservant or at least he was at some point until their arrangement developed into being a partnership. 'The Burning Shore' takes the reader to distant Lustria, followed by a cross-country jaunt beyond the World's Edge Mountains to the Mountains of Mourn in 'Wild Kingdoms'. Robert Earl's captivating descriptions of the Ogre Kingdoms are the best thing since sliced dwarf bread. On the strength of book two alone I have to put this in my top six.

Gilead's Blood by Dan Abnett & Nik Vincent
Famously this author produces reams of science fiction for the 40K universe. However, we are fortunate that Dan Abnett occasionally makes (or bends!?) time to frequent the Old World. A lot of folk are bound to have read his principal piratical excursion 'Fell Cargo'. Come on, it's about pirates!? The first Abnett book I read was 'Riders of the Dead', a story leading readers deep, to the Oblast and the Wastes. It wants to make you fall in love with Kislev! Abnett is smart. He has an incredible knack for homing in on minor details and animating them like you wouldn't believe. It's basically impossible to construct a retelling from an extract of what he has written, you just have to give up and quote him (see Kurgan weaponscraft in the Marauders of Chaos warband from Border Town Burning) on it. He also co-writes with other authors. The collaborations are clever stuff! The highlight for me has been 'Gilead's Blood'.

Gilead's Blood is the only reason I couldn't squeeze Graham McNeil'ls 'Defenders of Ulthuan' into my top five. I love elves! The tragic life of Gilead is probably now my favorite elven story of all time. The book is divided into (best word for it would be) sections which capitalise on strong themes and explore negative emotions. In places the subject material becomes rather trippy! This story is one of a kind.

In future I hope to blog more about the Black Library stories which have most inspired the Marienburg campaign for Mordheim. I will also recommend some good source books and report on the visit to Black Library Live.

Behind closed doors

Posted by  | Wednesday, October 26, 2011  at 8:32 PM  

As mentioned in the previous entry we recently gained a Witch Hunters player in our test campaign. Brother Klaus zealously smashed our custom cultists gang of Stromfels Reavers in the last round. The dark buccaneer Scurvy Dick and his crew of Wreckers took it all it good humour of course, I hope!

Periodically fellow enthusiasts ask me how the campaign development is progressing. This suggests I need to reveal more insights about the current state of my mutinous setting's plot here! Bearing in mind it took the best part of 5 years for Border Town Burning to be completed, I am in no hurry to reach the finishing post with Mutiny In Marienburg. However, knowing progress is happening always makes for great bulletins.

The frustrating thing about the playtesting we're doing (for me) is that we're not testing out any new Exploration or Random Happenings (yet!) so we're utilising the original Mordheim lists. I have notes drawn up for them but for various reasons it's not the right time to work on these chapters. This means the test campaign feels looser in theme than I would like. On the upside there are less questions being raised. I'm still devising campaign plots (for warband objectives) and this will be ongoing. It will probably be influenced by player decisions somewhat I feel. The main reason the Random Haps & Exploration are on hold is because Border Town Buring was conceived somewhat back-to-front and I don't want to have to pick-apart work and put it back together again as we did back then. LoL. We learned a lot about the game by making mistakes that couldn't be helped at the time. In the long run it all came good.

In my test campaign we are at the stage where we have some outstanding scenarios that are working. One has its own built in Random Haps meaning it functions similarly to Last Orders! scenario (from Border Town Burning & Nemesis Crown) which I hope everyone counts as a favourite because there are lots of taverns in Marienburg on the waterfronts.

I have 7 functional warband list drafts for the Marienburg gangs which players in my gaming group have been happily using. These have been tailored to waterside adventure of course. I have leaked early drafts of these documents internationally to guys who are committed to modelling & painting to a very high standard or GM's who are running their own gaming group. A gentlemen from the forum contacted me this week asking to see a copy of the rules for Sea Elf Rangers. He and others have the impression this is a Lothern Sea Guard warband! It is not. Without sounding like an ass, I'd hope for obvious reasons I cannot just dole out copies of incomplete rules and unfinished work. Please only ask if you can help!

I will take a look through folks scenario suggestions if I think they are relevant to Marienburg. We have been playing a new scenario with a rescue element that features a lagoon monster. It's not exclusively about rescue and the damsel is actually an NPC. The objective isn't to destroy the monster either which makes it far more conducive to developing tactics than other decent scenarios I've seen on the forum which share similar themes.

Got another rescue scenario in mind. At first I simply wished to include a jailbreak scenario to choose to play when warriors are being placed under arrest by the watch. The first theme that I imagined being useful was an escape proposition, based on the the prison island Rijker's in the mouth of the Reik. The subsequent idea was to employ a gallows for an execution scenario in the Hangman's Square where coaches entering the city by either gate terminate their journeys. It's one of the few open spaces in the ward, on the island of Luydenhoek. I want to use evoking themes when creating scenarios, not just employ sets of rules.

I love a lot of old Town Cryer articles so I have been reprocessing (data-cleansing!) various materials to clarify them for appropriate use and improve campaign play. On top of scenarios & warband lists, the support documents for my current test campaign are split into the following resources;

Published here under Rules:
- Corrupted Characters (mutation, tainted goods, all aspects of Chaos activity)
- Swords Of The Empire (players easy reference of HS to be more inclined to hire)
- Miracle Workers (options for holier Heroes)

- New Rules (charts or guidelines that don't fit elsewhere yet)
- Marketplace (post-battle sequence rules summary revitalising aspects of Encampments)
- Infamous Haunts (post-battle sequence rules for underworld location visits streamlining aspects of Encampments)

As for the new warbands, there isn't a Fimir warband list to speak of because it's virtually impossible to devise an original one that accurately reflects the lore. However, the Forge World team pledged in some official capacity at UK Games Day to release Fimir Warrior miniatures which is great because I did previously mention this to a few of their staff. New rules are slated for the 2nd Warhammer Forge book. It is said to be being released under the name 'Monstrous Arcana'.

I must compose some sort of grand introduction for the Gangs of Marienburg. Until I do reveal more on gangs these shadowy characters will continue to fight their battles behind the closed doors of their shady gambling den hide-outs.

Watchtower of Solace

Posted by  | Sunday, October 2, 2011  at 5:54 PM  

This Sunday afternoon I added a fresh piece of terrain to my already heavily populated Marienburg campaign table. Apologies that proper stills of the board haven't made there way into the Liber gallery just yet, there are some professional quality images being uploaded quite soon, honest!

Sigmar's Solace, Witch Hunters headquarters in Marienburg

A plastic kit Warhammer watchtower has been gathering dust on the modelling desk in my flat since the beginning of the Summer. I collected it from a local hobbyist for 5 gold crowns (well, pounds sterling) pre-assembled and had to break off the steps and reattach them so they fit properly. A few hours were spent painting the tower to loosely match it up with the rest of my buildings and fortresses which were scratch-built and kit-bashed by Carl Merrell (aka Shanks on Tom's Forum).

Watchtowers are iconic in Warhammer games. The Watchtower is symbolic of the old Town Cryer articles for Mordheim by the same name. This handy guide to reference past articles was resurrected by Chris Templin a few years ago. Here is a link to his article Rebuilding the Watchtower. These dusty gems still serve us in one format or another.

What prompted me to work on the tower was a new entrant in the campaign I am running. David Jarezembowski has brought the Templars of Sigmar to Marienburg! The classic Witch Hunters warband suits Dave perfectly. He's one of those gamers whose competitive nature gives the more casual players a fright! Dave's zeal is happily balanced with a head for the Warhammer background, so although he plans to burn or drown any witches & heretics he encounters, his motives are laying the foundations for a fun-packed adventure story. Dave is a veteran of every Games Workshop game apart from Mordheim. His vast experience of Warhammer and Necromunda set him in excellent stead for the intrigue and battles to come.

Witch hunters have absolutely no jurisdiction in Marienburg. Sigmar has little to no favour in the city-port and Imperial laws are void since is seceded from the Empire's rule! I figured that a 'temporary' base of operations for the templars was still only fitting. The witch hunter captain needs somewhere to interrogate suspects once they get a license to pursue their investigations signed and sealed by the Executive Council of the Stadsraad. A small fortified watchtower seemed perfect to represent Sigmar's Solace, or 'Sigmartrost' in Reikspiel.

One of the new scenario ideas I had for this city setting is 'Stockade'. In this core scenario a fortified tower surrounded by a defensive barrier is used as the battleground for what I originally intended to be a homage to the scenario 'Blockade' from Border Town Burning. A few of the other new scenarios have been completed for 'Mutiny in Marienburg'. We have been using these plus original Mordheim and Border Town Burning scenarios to playtest the 7 gangs of Marienburg. Yeh, that's 7 new warbands folks!

In a new scenario called 'Dead Bait' the warbands enter a fighting pit in the Marienburg underworld. The forces from each gang are split. 3 warriors are nominated as Champions to fight in the baiting pit against each other plus the hulking pit gladiators! The remainder of the warband are (supposed to be) spectators but inevitably end up baiting one another while the pitfight reaches its bloody conclusion.

This weeks scenario we've been testing is 'Creature from the Black Market Lagoon'. One warband is using a kidnapped damsel as live bait to distract an aquatic monster that is menacing their secret smuggling dock. While they load their illegal goods another warband leads a rescue party to save the damsel.

In addition to the witch hunters arrival, there are a couple more clandestine entrants to the campaign. Steve Hume (aka 'Canada') has already won his first battle using Cathayan Battle Monks. Trev (TreGod on Tom's Forum) is lining up his Elf warband. for which you can view from his WiP thread on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum. He is plotting to foil my uranai rangers with his druchii corsairs. Trev is actually stylizing his elves based on the Sea Elf Rangers warband list, but because I am already playing with this gang in the campaign we agreed it would be more fun if he uses the Dark Elf warband list from the Lustria setting. The corsairs are infiltrating Marienburg in the guise of sea elves to wreak havoc by fulfilling their hateful prophecies.

Fimir Balefiend sighted

Posted by  | Sunday, July 10, 2011  at 4:29 PM  

Another lavish tome made its way into my library of lore this weekend. Storm of Magic is the latest Warhammer release, an expansion treating heretics to a mind-bending choice of extraordinarily powerful new magic spells, artefacts, fulcrums, and scrolls permitting the binding of monsters, beasts and magical characters.

Nestled away in the back of this luxurious publication on page 134 is an amphibious sorcerer called a Fimir Balefiend. Until one of the Games Workshop studio developers named Mat Ward co-wrote the latest Warhammer rulebook and the Storm of Magic expansion, the Fimir had managed to keep a low profile for two decades!

Fimir sorcerers, known as Dirach or sometimes as Balefiends, are detailed as spending prolonged periods in the lands beyond the mists. The Fimir are described in Storm of Magic as amphibious humanoid monsters that haunt bogs, fens, and desolate moorlands in the northern and western Old World. The reason that I am recounting these texts is because that area being described is none other than the Wasteland. Marienburg is sited in the Wasteland territory. The city-port is surrounded by treacherous swamplands known as the Cursed Marsh and it is here that the infamous one-eyed daemon-worshipping Fimir lay in hiding. Their strongholds wreathed in thick mist produced through magic means by their sorcerers to shield their craggy fortresses from prying eyes.

The quality of the Storm of Magic hardback publication easily justifies the price tag. It has been masterfully produced with a magnetic front cover and spinning dial representing the Eight Winds of Magic, reminding me of the party game 'Twister!'

One of the players in my campaign set in Marienburg is using a Cult of the Possessed gang. We don't have the original Mordheim miniatures available but I do have a selection of suitable Citadel miniatures we can use; Fimir warriors from the Heroquest game plus a couple of the metal miniatures released during the late 80's.

The reasons for Fimir being the perfect choice to represent a Possessed warband is not obvious. Anyone who us unfamiliar with the Warhammer background concerning Fimir will mistake them for Beasts of Chaos. This the 'Common View'. Fimir are not beastmen, beastmen are not amphibious! Fimir are described as a dwindling and reclusive race. Beastmen are widespread, plaguing the Old World and beyond. Comparing the two is worse than comparing Elves to Men. They are like chalk and cheese.

Common views concerning Fimir are judged by their appearance rather than their lore. Fimir appear bestial and primal, who occasionally raid to take captives and steal food. Some or all of these behaviours are demonstrated by men, orcs, ogres, gors, chaos dwarfs and werecreatures to mention a few.

Fimir society and their gruesome habits are historically described in a couple of the 1st edition Warhammer Roleply sourcebooks in addition to classic Warhammer rulebooks and the original Warhammer Armies publication. It's gripping stuff! The less detail concerning some of their less than salubrious activities the better. In this day and age it is sufficient to say that such creatures grim objective is to destabilise the barrier between the mortal world and the Realm of Chaos, to regain favour with the Chaos Gods.

There is a matriarchal aspect to the bog dwellers social structure to mention. Amongst the Balefiends, the Dirach sorcerers are historically subservient to the Meargh females. The lore is indicative that powerful spellcasters amongst Fimir are their leaders.

Campaign material concerning 'possessed' Fimir warriors is included in the RPG book 'Dying of the Light'. An excellent sourcebook set mostly around the Wasteland, with parts being set within Marienburg itself! These characters with a daemon bound to their physical form by a magister either wind up behaving (and appearing physically) like Possessed, Dark Souls or Mutants. Warriors too weak to survive daemonic possession typically end up dead or worse. The scenario 'Burn Them!' was scribed by none other than Black Library author Sandy Mitchell as pictured on this blog!

Like the druchii, beastmen and human followers of Chaos, the Fimir entreat with daemons, carrying out morbid practices of dark magic and human sacrifice. They would use Chaos rituals and more than a little of daemon lore. The weapons list of both CotP and Beastmen warbands are similar. Theres are no centauroid mutants mentioned specifically relating to the one-eyed marsh phantoms. The characteristics for 'Beastmen' in CotP warbands as opposed to traditional Gors are very different (much to Christian Templin's dismay). Warriors with '2 Wounds' compare favourably with the elite Fimm described in the lore.

After scratching around for enough proof through research, in my scholar's view, I find the evidence all very compelling. While I wouldn't dare loremasters of renown to argue against my reasoning, I don't see much rationale that indicates a dedicated warband list is necessary for Fimir. Especially when you consider the low profile that their mysterious kind has maintained for hundreds of years, their covert behaviour bears comparison to the actions of a Chaos cult.

The next time the Balefiend's cyclopean eye turns its attention on the ebb and flow of the Winds of Magic it might realise that magical power is available just beyond the city wall of Marienburg.

Believe in miracles

Posted by  | Sunday, May 8, 2011  at 1:00 PM  

Sweet Myrmidia, Morr's bones, Ulric's beard, Taal's teeth, Shallya's teats, Sigmar's sausage, Manann's cockles, Ranald's balls!

Each of the above are popular curses from the Old World. Believe me, I'm needing to use them all upon swearing in a new article entitled 'Miracle Workers'. This is a Mordheim gaming aid all about Priests.

Download the article here:
Miracle Workers (PDF, ca. 1.8 MB)

Swords of the Empire, trusting in their faith, can withstand and turn back the tide of enemies that face them, needing only to hear the priests reciting liturgies to inspire them to heroism. It falls to the priests to contend with the foe on the spiritual and magical planes and they do this with prayers and invocations, almost equal in potency to the spells of wizards, and with the strength of their unflinching minds.

Some existing game rules for priests in Mordheim have been changed here so this is my opportunity to point out the change only affects two priests. There is no change to Warrior-priests of Sigmar or Priests of Taal aside from the enhanced material herein allowing all priests to receive the 'Mark' of a respective patron.

Wolf-priest of Ulric by Enrique Durand originally appeared in Town Cryer #8. In my article the Ulrican priest has undergone more of a rewrite than I would have liked. This seemed necessary in fitting the character more faithfully to the game background as it is portrayed in releases for the Warhammer roleplaying game.

Priests of Morr featured in the White Dwarf mini-campaign 'Thy Will Be Done' but they had previously appeared in Town Cryer #12 courtesy of Todd Estabrook. Todd was a freelancer who had the right idea in his portrayal of priests. The Priest of Morr was described as a new Hero that could be used in mercenary warbands replacing one of the warband's Heroes. Favourable revisions inspired by Tome of Salvation appear in the article to enhance the flavour of Morr's servants.

Priest of Morr conversion painted by Werekin

Heretics beware! Within this document download you can find rules to play any priest from the nine patron Cults of the Empire. These include new prayers and special rules for a Trickster-priest of Ranald, Priest of Verena, Priestess of Shallya, War-priestess of Myrmidia, and Mariner-priest of Manann.

In Marienburg, some faiths are more dominant than others. There are annotations promoting how you might hire priests faithful to other gods like Handrich, God of Trade and Commerce. Additional guidelines describe the infamous War-priests of Solkan!

This article is intended to be used in all campaigns set in Mordheim, Marienburg, and beyond. It was conceived as a counterpart piece to the Corrupted Characters article which was completed ages ago hence I'm thankful to finally get this off my desktop!

Priest of Manann conversion painted by Werekin

I hope Miracle Workers inspires many hours of zealous modeling activity in the Mordheim community! My own Citadel miniature conversions for Priests will be appearing over on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forumhere. I now invite you talented craftsmen and women to post your own hobby offerings on the same thread.

Thanks to Bob Whetton for photographing the miniatures.

Saluting trade exploration

Posted by  | Sunday, April 17, 2011  at 3:30 PM  

The annual wargaming event Salute was staged at London's ExCel exhibition centre on Saturday 16th April.

After hauling my bony butt from the comfort of my quilted coffin, I met up with Frogprince and Geekgirl before beginning our expedition to attend this prestigious trade show widely considered to be a calendar highlight for everybody in the wargaming industry.

Aside from Black Library Live last month it is the first event I've attended in a long time. It is the first trade fair event of its kind I have ever been to. I have not made it to a Games Day since the 1990's. UK Gen-Con is an event which I have participated in maybe as recently as 7 or 8 years ago, but assuredly none of these experiences has been quite like Salute. Funnily enough Black Library was present. As were a myriad of British merchants and manufacturers from around Europe.

Our product exploration was a spur of the moment decision. I have known of the event for quite some time and always fancied going. An old friend of mine and his fiancee said they fancied it too so off we went!

One of the big attractions at an event like Salute is new releases. There are a number of exclusive items available for the first time on the day. Some manufacturers go so far as selling items that have been produced exclusively for the show. I should have liked to mention something of it in advance as a few folk have since indicated they'd have liked a few exclusive show items if we had been able to pick them up. One to consider for next time.

The organisation of online sales for retailers is questionable! Some have what I consider poor web pages or site that are unfriendly to navigate. I spoke to a couple of companies who either admitted to having no web presence or they had poor web sites. There were too many flyers being handed out. One flyer was for Citadel components and the company name was Bits Box who (in their own words) don't have much stock right now. Time wasters! They don't have a webstore being as this was a different firm to Bitz Box who do have a great web site and periodically update their stock.

What was brilliant about Salute was viewing all the magnificent stuff close-up for real and wrestling with decisions over what to buy and whether to buy it or not. For instance I went to one trade-stand with the intention of making a purchase, then ended up being blown away by another tradestand ran by some very talented Polish guys. Micro Art Studio make bases that are so characterful that they stand a bloody good chance of upstaging the miniatures that you would be sticking on to them! I picked up some samples to work with for my upcoming gang projects from their Battle Bases range. Browsing through their online store I am now being tempted to order some graveyard themed bases in addition to these wood-planked ones. While at the stand I even joked to MAS staff that we could try fighting opponents using just these attractive bases with no warriors on them!

For sure there is a varying amount of (crap!) detail on a number of these Micro Art Studio bases. They are open to a lot of interpretation when being painted. For instance there is a futile amount of effort that has gone in to painting the bases which were on display at the show. It does not help buyers that there are no miniatures planted on them because that leaves zero impression of their end value. That is stupid guys, really stupid!

We didn't attend the show for any of the games being ran. A few hard-sellers were cajoling me to invest time on games demos and part with my gold crowns on their products but nothing new has peeked my interest in that sense. There are trillions of games in the market to investigate and a lot of interesting ideas. Convention marketplaces and online shopping trends have loosened the hold of the ivory tower presence Games Workshop commands from the high street. The gaming giant has to perform like never before to maintain its market share with serious contenders chomping at the bit.

There were a couple of marvelously sculpted ranges of pirate miniatures featuring tasty tricorn-hatted femme fatales and swashbuckling freebooters from Black Scorpion and Freebooter miniatures respectively. Unfortunately a lot of these high fantasy products come across as being too cheesy for my gritty tastes, and by that I mean fantasy formats where comedic license fails to balance itself. A lot of the work I saw was cute. It lacked in edge.

I did bear witness to camaraderie between artists when one miniature designer stood present 'swapping' his latest releases with the staff on another traders stand! That was a cool moment from the event.

The contrast between real and unreal factions at Salute really stretches the brain. Alongside established historical publications are a mind-boggling array of fantastical realms to keep up with. Weird looking creatures packaged in boxes or blister-packs fill the many racks of vendors. Menageries of strange imaginary beasts being referred to by differing titles, some worryingly familiar, some not at all. We failed to find any Fimir and there was a zero count on Werelions.

While there were a number of really impressive historical gaming set ups, I was not awestruck by any of them. Certainly not after reading reports from European events such as my co-conspirator Cianty's experience at Hamburger Tactica 2011. You can see read his report here.

There was a severe lack of decent terrain on sale of any kind. While disappointing this saved me a lot of money. I have already amassed a quantity of custom built scenery on top of cobbling together some of my own items for my Marienburg adventure. Maritime accessories were few and far between. Between the crest of the waves I did spot some handy looking crates and grain sacks to decorate a wharf on Luydenhoek Isle.

Ultimately, my existing back log is wicked enough that I resisted the urge to go crazy around Salute snapping up all the shiny releases I liked the look of from a few of what I considered the best quality producers. Acting on impulse I did walk away with the new Marienburg Land Ship though. Frogprince eventually bagged himself the Chaos Dwarf Hellsmith after braving the horrible queues in the mad scrum which signifies the arrival of Forgeworld.

Fire dwarfs

Posted by  | Monday, April 4, 2011  at 9:15 PM  

As introductions go, this isn't going to be very good, for which I apologise but I would just like to set the scene. I am currently sat in Stu 'Werekin' Cresswell's flat typing on his laptop while he is in another room with my fiancee (Michelle 'geekgirl' Steele) and a mutual friend of ours from Canada. Imaginatively* he is called Canada by all his British friends. The reason I am saying this is because they are all settling down with toy soldiers and dice to play the bar room brawl scenario Last Orders! from the previous supplement Border Town Burning, and patiently waiting for me to finish typing up this post and geek out with them. This, along with the glass of rum sat here with me, might explain a lot about this post.....

*The trend was set by Eddy 'Skarloc' Morgan.

As an avid fan of Forgeworld miniatures, word has reached me of a certain show only model for this years events trail. A certain Chaos /Black/Fire Dwarf Hellsmith .

Fire Dwarfs have a certain amount of nostalgia for me as not only were they the first real, new warband I had the fortune to be playtesting (The Black Dwarfs for the BTB campaign previous) but also my first attempt at contributing some serious writing to the Mordheim tapestry (I don't think the aborted Snotling Freedom Fighters warband really counts!) in the form of the Hobgoblin Wolfrider Hired Sword.

Roll back time a little bit to September and a certain event at Birmingham's NEC. Once again at the Forgeworld tradestand (or to be more specific, Warhammer Forge) and a number of models catch my eye. The second of which, surprisingly, are the Dwarfs of Chaos. First, though, is the Marienburg Landship. It's a big model so was pretty hard to miss! Having been suitably impressed with this nautical themed resin artefact I noticed a number of smaller models around it. These were much smaller, being dwarfen in stature, and bearded but not the common kind. These were braided and they had distinctive silly hats on!

Now I have been in the hobby for some time. About 15 or so years (on and off) behind the paintbrush, so I remember the Chaos Dwarfs of old. Unfortunately due to lack of forethought stupidity on my part I no longer have any of my miniatures from way back then which did include some plastic, once piece Chaos Dwarfs and a Sorcerer, who may even have been a Lord, so the opportunity to get my paws on a small armies worth without the excessive cost some Ebay sellers charge for the privilege is most welcome! It also means I get the chance to use them again in my games of Mordheim, as I no longer have my original warband used for playtesting.

Now I am known for my love of ratkind in Mordheim, however, I will say that the Black/Fire Dwarfs warband is probably one of the most fun I have played with. Especially using the Bull Centaur, he is a close combat monster! There is something about the warband when you are playing a game that really draws you in to the feel of the game and that, for me, is the sign of a great warband.

Now I really must go, a Cathayan Dragon Monk has just spilled a Strigany River Pirate's drink, there are strange squeaking sounds coming from the latrines and the Elven Minstrels have stopped playing their music while our glasses are refilled...........

Popular items

Posted by  | Friday, April 1, 2011  at 1:30 AM  

Beta-testing for an exciting selection of new warbands is happening now. There have been some fantastic suggestions made and recommendations submitted. Thanks for sending those through to us. There needed to be a lengthy gestation period for determining various new factions due to ongoing research, plot development, and the planning of accessible new rules which tie everything neatly together for the ultimate campaign experience. However, the wait to find what warriors are hot property is finally over. Subject to last minute corrections I can reveal what the new warbands are, which is easier than informing the community one by one when replying to PM's and emails. It is officially time to spill the beans on the maritime crew which proved to be the most popular. These are the gangs of Marienburg.

River Pirates: Some attractive looking gypsies, these exiles of Strigoi appeared on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum this month courtesy of Eliazar and more Strigany gypsies are being showcased courtesy of Shel 'geekgirl' Steele. Strigany river pirates already look set to become a popular choice in Mordheim and Marienburg campaigns for many years to come.

Fimir: Denizens of the fens surrounding the port-city Marienburg. Marsh dwelling daemon-cyclops recently returned to fore in the latest edition of the Warhammer rulebook! Fimir are the only creatures to have their own Warhammer Armies category on ebay under selling options which aren't represented in the contemporary range of releases (see screen image above detailing 'popular items' on ebay). Start collecting now before they retreat to the murky depths of their natural habitats for another twenty years! Oh, and check out this warband WIP thread on Tom's.

Fishmen: Aquatic mutants are not uncommon in the Old World. It's just that the numerous official reports (of octopoid-women and men-with-gills) made by river patrols along the Reik have since been treated as 'classified'. If you fancy converting a Hero with a large pair of tentacles then this is the warband for you. Another warband WIP thread is up for your viewing pleasure.

Albioners: Men from Albion keep to themselves. Heck, there was only one Albion warrior-wizard sociable enough to make an appearance in the Dark Shadows campaign. With continued interest in the distant shores of this mystical island it was only a matter of time before these alcoholic barbarians became ambitious enough to set foot on Imperial soil. Bringing the finest malt whiskey in the world with them from Loch Lorm.

Gnomes: There is a ton of lore on them! Expect to see toadstool guardians popping out of the ruins and all kinds of dangerous gnomic experimental weaponry being sold on the black market.

Zoats: An old favourite amongst collectors is a rare scaled centauroid. Zoats never really went away. They've been hidden in plain view all along what with their possessing an uncanny knack of blending in with any terrain found packed away in shoeboxes at the bottom of wardrobes.

Stoats: Waterfront-weasel warbands featuring aquatic cousins to the Skaven. These otter-like alternative beasts of Chaos are being referred to by one pie-eyed Imperial scholar as 'Skroats'.

Unseen library

Posted by  | Monday, March 7, 2011  at 12:10 AM  

Every year the Black Library goes to the trouble of arranging a special event for their illuminated readers. This gathering takes place in Nottingham at Warhammer World located on the premises of the Games Workshop headquarters here in the United Kingdom.

2 of the 350 tickets sold in advance of Black Library Live 2011 found their way into the hands of Eddy Morgan and I. Seeking inspiration in the hobby, we mere minstrels rocked up on the Saturday morning. The Black Library editorial team alongside a cast of published loremasters were ably supported by crew from Games Workshop and the Black Library. We had a tremendous day out! Here we'd like to recount something about it.

Ed trained down from Newcastle while I piloted my gull-winged vessel up from Poole in time for the start. We collected a free copy of Caledor each upon entrance making the ticket price a real bargain! Seminars and author signings had been brilliantly scheduled in such a way that we could duck into each of the mutually agreeable encounters and spare enough minutes for Ed to drain Bugman's barrel and nip out for a tab.

Before the first timed session began I was able to catch up with an old friend. Rich Packer was helping to man the author signings and pre-release sales area. Rich is a friendly face from his time working in the south around the couple of local stores around our home town. Ed snapped up the latest Night Lords novel from Aaron Dembski-Bowden plus more Gav Thorpe stuff, Path of the Warrior and a special limited edition novella The Bloody Handed. Meanwhile I neglected to notice the novella, going straight for the jugular with the 2nd Ulrika novel from Nathan Long and Broken Honour by Robert Earl.

Our first experience of Black Library Live was an intimate seminar with the editors; Lindsey Priestley, Christian Dunn and a new member from their team. The enthusiasm from both quarters was evident as quick-fire questions from the crowd were managed by the editorial staff. Christian was the lead vocal on the panel. Sat amongst us, two talented quills being published in upcoming Hammer & Bolter online releases were announced. We noticed a significant presence of creative writers expressing an interest in testing their mettle. Advice was cordially distributed that might help them avoid the many pitfalls surrounding submission guidelines.

The sun not yet over the yard arm, Edward sampled Bugman XXXXXX for the first time. Dwarf ale is a little weak for the tastes of the one they call 'Rock Lord'. As a result we tipped up 5 minutes late for the Time of Legends talk in Seminar Room 1. Being tardy meant we weren't allowed to join the seminar. Two jedi Vs a tough looking security lady. One mind-trick later and we were sat in the sparsely populated crowd. ToL has been a massive success for Black Library but Mr Abnett is top of the pops and his signing session diverted quite a number of die-hard delegates. Ed has avidly followed Gav Thorpe's Sundering series and also read the Nagash books whilst I have yet to turn the first leaf of these books (crowding my shelf). The release schedule grinds on with too many super new stories to distract us from our real world duties!

We learned a lot about the series in this historical seminar. There were bulletins revealing the next season of stories. Chris Wraight and Nick Kyme joined Gav Thorpe and Graham McNeill. Chris & Nick are collaborating on the War of the Beard series whilst Gav is tackling a retelling of the Vampire Wars. To my delight CL Werner will complete the line-up next season by narraing the Black Plague. Herr Wraight surprisingly delivered me the mic to pop my 2nd fan-boy question of the day and I also took the opportunity to congratulate Graham for the Gemmell award. My friends have read and recommended the Sigmar trilogy and his achieve is a great boon for Warhammer fiction.

After the session I bumped into Chris Wraight in the book sales area. Recognising him from the last seminar gave me the chance to praise his epic contribution to the Warhammer canon. Chris wrote two infectious stories for Heroes of the Empire, Sword of Justice and Sword of Vengeance. Detailing a sequence of events surrounding the coronation of a new elector count in Averland, Chris exposed famous characters Ludwig Schwartzhelm and Kurt Helborg respectively in both books. He is a really big fan of the Empire. I've read both books. They were not at all what I expected and I was massively entertained. Sword of Vengeance was the last novel I read before coming this event. It's fired my interest in Empire politics and increased my empathy with the nation. I will be getting the Luthor Huss story from the Heroes range the second it hits the shelves.

Graham McNeill regaling his lament at forgetting to bring his award trophy Snaga the Slayer, before Gav Thorpe and Stu Cresswell, both dressed as jawas in brown hoodies.

The Horus Heresy seminar was very entertaining. An all-star panel of authors including Dan Abnett was not something Eddy wanted to miss. I don't follow the series myself. However, the experience was more than insightful to an uneducated outlander. Ed has this smug grin on his face throughout the packed session.

Edward and I had the privilege of discussing Mordheim and Warhammer RPG with Andy Hoare during their signing session. We just turned up for a chat really and to say hello rather than collect wild signatures. Mordheim was also mentioned in passing by Nick Kyme in one of the seminars proving that city might be damned but it's not entirely forgotten! The Warhammer campaign Nemesis Crown was written by Andy Hoare. Andy thought the quality and the presentation of the Mordheim supplement for Nemesis Crown was very good. He's even picked it up to game with!

Andy previously expressed his support of the Border Town Burning supplement. I thanked him for his complimentary feedback on behalf of the originator Chris Templin and the wider community. We spoke briefly about the campaign objectives pioneered in BTB and how they should be further developed in an urban setting. When I confirmed this was indeed the intention for our next campaign adventure in Marienburg, Andy requested that he be kept apprised as it develops.

Andy Hoare (right) with Stu (left) enter into a staring contest.

Sandy Mitchell was surprised and amused when a copy of the old Marienburg roleplay book 'Dying of the Light' was thrust under his nose for signature. Sandy contributed the 3rd scenario, concerning a Fimir ambush in the Wasteland. Where as he claimed to believe his copy was the only one still in his exist, Rich confirmed he still has his copy of this classic resource. After distracting Sandy from his 'real work' we remembered that blogs look better with pictures and found a volunteer to capture this line-up for our rogues gallery.

From left to right: Sandy Mitchell (holding his profane tome), Andy Hoare, Stu, Eddy, Rich Packer

The last order of the day was another seminar, with Christian and Nick joined by Darius Hinks. The trio arrived to spill the beans on previously unconfirmed publishing plans. We couldn't miss this peek into the crystal ball! My well-mannered enthusiasm inspired me to cheer 'rowdily' at the announcement of 2 or 3 releases. The open forum permitted me to fire a couple of left-field questions concerning minority characters.

Unfortunately it doesn't sound like there will be a Sam Warble casebook sanctioned any time soon (boo!) but there is an understanding that intrigue is being promoted to compliment all the warmongering. Amidst the tide of military themed publications comes news that Zavant Konniger's 'incomplete' casebook is being reissued along with some previously excluded material.

The slick organisation of the days events coupled with the availability of quality literature in advance of the products planned release will encourage us to return to Warhammer World. I would recommend the live event to more friends who enjoy the stories and urge them to participate in the future.

Before departing we holed up for a bit in Bugman's. I managed to hook up with an old friend from my days spent playing on the tournament circuit of Magic the Gathering. Co-incidentally his wife is a published author and is acquainted to Graham McNeil through a writing group she's attended. Oh and there was also a bar brawl in Bugman's instigated by one very soused Norseman who sprouted claws and sharp fangs when a sozzled Sea Elf spilled his pint of Troll's Brew!

As it turns out, the Norse couldn't hold their liquor quite as well as the Elven revellers. Werekin's warband retired (routed) while Skarloc (aka Ed) and his troupe of Elves celebrated to the soundtrack of their minstrel's Litany of Deeds played as a victory song during Last Orders!

For another perspective on the event check out this blogger's event experience:

Making of a Mutiny

Posted by  | Monday, February 7, 2011  at 8:20 PM  

One cold dark night in January, Werekin & Frogprince got together to play with noxious chemicals. Why? Check the WiP (Works in Progress) thread over on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum to view our modular campaign dream set-up, and to follow progress of the realisation of Ludyenhoek Isle in Marienburg's South Dock district.

'Geekgirl' Michelle Steele was on-hand to collect evidence. What follows is candid camera footage uploaded from Werekin's video capture device as two amateur hobby enthusiasts act out their fantasy of becoming mad scientists while building a maritime wargames table for playing Mordheim. Please note that if you want to skip straight to the good stuff then you should just load up Part 3.

Step One: The Opening
In part one of 'Making of a Mutiny' the intrepid enthusiasts release noxious vapours from a 5L tin of polyester resin and the catalyst agent used as its hardener.

Step Two: The Mixing
In part two of 'Making of a Mutiny' the daring hobbyists plow on through potent fumes released by toxic chemicals in their ambitious quest to achieve Warhammer world hobby utopia.

Step Three: The Pouring
In part three of 'Making of a Mutiny' the foolhardy wargamers continue to dabble with highly toxic chemicals in the hope of creating a gaming table worthy of the seafaring scum and river pirates to be found in Marienburg.

Out-take: The Elven Gauntlet
"The gloves are off!" Well actually, they are not even on yet in this video from the 'Making of a Mutiny' as Chris tries to squeeze his big hands into some fetching protective elven gauntlets.

Battle royale

Posted by  | Sunday, February 6, 2011  at 7:52 PM  

"Last Orders!" hollered the flea-bitten old harpy behind the bar. The Dancing Pirate in the Craftsmarket, so called for the crude sign hung above the door with an image of a sailor with an eye patch twisting at the end of a hangman's rope.

I've always said that I'll write a battle report and so far I never have. This weekend just gone I invited my group of gaming buddies to come around for a good old fashioned tavern brawl! A couple of the guys have never played Mordheim or Warhammer before. The premise was to play 'Last Orders!' This is one of the core scenarios in Border Town Burning. Each player was allocated a thirsty gang consisting of 4x Heroes from their respective warband.

This report reveals the identity of the first two new warbands I have been developing and playtesting for the Mutiny in Marienburg campaign. In addition, we used a couple of our favourites from Border Town Burning, one from the Mordheim rulebook and one from the Mordheim Annual. The sides were not particularly even as you will see but the contestants decided to play for fun, notably without the inclusion of magic users. Only two of the gangs would have been eligible to bring a spell caster. Apparently witches and sorcerers are not big drinkers anyway.

WARBAND: Battle Monks of Cathay (225 gold crowns)
HEROES: 1x Emissary (60 gold crowns) 3x Dragon Monks (55 gold crowns)
CHANCES OF WINNING: Poor - Stu has never played a Games Workshop game before in his life! Stu plays Magic the Gathering and occasionally other card games & board games. After we explained the combat rules to Stu for the umpteenth time he is ready to be baptised in fire with the Monks.

PLAYER TWO: Chris 'Frogprince' Kneller
WARBAND: Skaven Clan Eshin (160 gold crowns)
HEROES: 1x Assassin Adept (60 gold crowns) 2x Black Skaven (40 gold crowns) 1x Night Runner (20 gold crowns)
CHANCES OF WINNING: Excellent - Chris is odds on favourite to win. He avidly plays every Games Workshop game except LotR including all Specialist Games. The Frogprince won the Nemesis Crown campaign I ran at GW Poole using Dwarf Rangers. Skaven is his primarily played warband, although he is handicapped in this scenario by not having the superior numbers he is accustomed to.

PLAYER THREE: Antony Bowker
WARBAND: Dwarf Treasure Hunters (235 gold crowns)
HEROES: 1x Dwarf Noble (85 gold crowns) 1 Dwarf Engineer (50 gold crowns) 2x Dwarf Troll Slayers (50 gold crowns)
CHANCES OF WINNING: Slim - Ant has also never played Mordheim or Warhammer. He is relying on his competitive edge as a Magic the Gathering player, his experience in playing a bit of Blood Bowl, and his like-minded attitude to quaff ale with Dwarfs.

PLAYER FOUR: Michelle Steele
WARBAND: Strigany River Gypsies (160 gold crowns)
HEROES: 1x Domnu (65 gold crowns) 1x Tinker (45 gold crowns) 2x Truants (25 gold crowns)
CHANCES OF WINNING: Fair - This is Shel's first outing with her new river pirates. Their water-caravan anchored out on the wharf, she is looking to take advantage of the wrestling skills of her musclebound caravan master. The Domnu is a prize-fighter, like Cathayan Monks he is not penalised for fighting unarmed. Her remaining Heroes are weak. Truants are youngbloods and the benefits of a Tinker are no use in a bar fight!

WARBAND: Maneaters (280 gold crowns)
HEROES: 1x Captain (145 gold crowns) 3x Youngbloods (45 gold crowns)
CHANCES OF WINNING: Good - He played his first Mordheim campaign using the Battle Monks and won it! Phil was once UK number 1 ranked player for Magic the Gathering. Diplomatically pointing out that Dwarfs and Skaven are much better than their hire costs suggest, Phil has been allowed to take a full compliment of Ogre Youngbloods.

PLAYER SIX: Stu 'Werekin' Cresswell
WARBAND: Sea Elf Rangers (220 gold crowns)
HEROES: 1x Wayfinder (70 gold crowns) 1x Feast-Master (90 gold crowns) 2x Sentinels (30 gold crowns)
CHANCES OF WINNING: Very Good - Stu is playtesting a new elf troupe that he hopes will be accepted as being both balanced and a fitting tribute to the original elf warband. It remains to be seen whether the Werekin will be competitive without the aid of his beloved Norse warband! His hopes are resting on the Feast-Master, best described as a Wardancer who can't dance very well yet.

Clockwise from left: Stu Webb, Frogprince, Antony, Michelle, Phil, Werekin (out of shot)

The Cathayans must have been on washing up duty as they charged out from the kitchen confines behind the bar, where (surprise, surprise) the Dwarfs Treasure Hunters were all quaffing ale! The Dragon Monks must have spilled a Dwarfs pint because a bloody bout of fisticuffs ensued. The River Gypsies divided their attack between the scrapping Dwarfs and Monks, with the Domnu fancying his chances against the Ogre Captain. With 2 Attacks base being increased to 3 by fighting unarmed, the barrel-chested Strigany leader managed to inflict a wound on the hulking Ogre leader. The return blow knocked the Domnu off his feet, through the wall and out of action.

The yellow-bellied agents of Clan Eshin spent the best part of the battle skulking in the restroom, as befits their craven nature. The cowardly vermin eventually vacated the lavatory to join the skirmish (under threat of being discovered by elf radar). By now four of the other gangs had been depleted in numbers. As the rats got stuck in it became evident that the Ogre warband was the only gang with 4 surviving members. No mean feat considering that the Captain has 3 Wounds and even Youngbloods carry 2 Wounds. The Ogres had been tactically deployed on the lower stairs with their Captain shielding his younger squishier brethren.

Meanwhile there were Elves leaping heroically from table to table. Describing these movement plays as being 'real elf tactics' Stu eventually saw both Sentinels nose-dive to the pub floor, face-planting themselves conveniently before the Ogres. It was at this point that the Werekin needed to reveal the new elven youngbloods are only Toughness 2, while resolving the D3 Strength 1 hits! By the time Stu realised his agile Elves could of scaled the banisters and charged the Ogre calves from the rear it was too late as they were already bloodied and bruised. The Wayfinder was out of action and the rest were knocked down.

There were a number of random happenings during the course of the game. Many rounds of combat had been fought by the time the first event occurred. This sparked a flurry of further 1's to be rolled. Here were all the special events;

1. Emissary from Cathay found Ornamental Weapon and passed Strength test!
2. Strigany Truant paid the Renegade to knife Dwarf Noble. Dwarf hit but not wounded!
3. Feast-Master was approached by a Buxom Barmaid. Being as Immune to Psychology meant he was immune to her charms!
4. Dwarf Noble paid the Renegade to knife the Ogre Captain. Ogre was hit and wounded!
5. Dragon Monk found Ornamental Weapon and passed Strength test!
6. Strigany Truant drank Liquid Courage becoming drowsy! (-1 Initiative)

Surprisingly the Ogres were the first patrons to leave the tavern in a battered state when the Feast-Master dealt the final blow to their twice-wounded Captain (pictured below). The feral Elf followed up the assault by polishing off the last remaining Ogre Youngblood. The Elves accomplishment was short-lived. A Dragon Monk felled the last Sentinel. In turn, the Battle Monks were the next warband to be eliminated from the contest as a measly Truant from the Strigany camp decked the last of the Monks proving that Cathayans can't hold their liquor!

The last three warriors standing were a Black Skaven, a Truant, and the Noble. The dying sequence of events in the brawl were as follows. The Dwarf charged and stunned the Skaven, already locked in combat with the Truant. This left the Truant in the dilemma of whether to stamp on the injured rat or charge the Noble. In the heat of battle the Strigany felt obliged to kick the Skaven while it was down. As a consequence the Dwarf charged in and boxed the youths ears taking him out of action.

Victory to the Dwarfs and to Antony in his first game of Mordheim!

Joy of the marketplace

Posted by  | Wednesday, January 19, 2011  at 1:22 AM  

The original encampments article (Town Cryer issues #27-28) described itself as purely experimental and was introduced as being designed to add more spice* and background to campaigns and allow a warband to establish themselves a base camp around the ruins of Mordheim in Cutthroat's Den, Sigmarhaven or Brigandsburg.

*Not the valuable trade commodity from Araby and Ind!

The base camps of warbands can be determined easily enough by districts and wards marked on any campaign map. This might be of Mordheim, Marienburg or other cities where adventure beckons. Each gang is assumed to be housed. What is less obvious is where warbands can discreetly conduct their private affairs. Keeping hideouts a secret is impossible using the original rules for encampments. A major flaw for any campaign promoting intrigue!

The question of housing clouds the juiciest campaign material idea in the encampments article. That of encouraging Heroes to pursue alternative activities during the Trading phase of the post-battle sequence.

Heroes are not restricted to visiting one special location. The warband as a group may visit D3 locations (in the settlement where they are housed). This experimental process imposes limitations. Visiting locations is presented as an alternative to your Heroes using the Trading chart, implying they cannot do both! There is a contradiction in terms here because some location entries convey bonuses to the Heroes visiting a trading post.

There is also a superfluous random event to resolve between each location visits. (ie, Two locations visited requires one roll on the Events chart to find out what happens in between as the warband carouses around town.) A warband carousing around town is lacking subtlety! Another crucial flaw when there are organised crime networks, Chaos cults, and law enforcement patrols to worry about.

My interpretation of all this would be as follows…

During the Trading phase of the post-battle sequence D3 Heroes may visit one of the special locations instead of searching for a rare item in the marketplace.

The idea of encouraging a Hero to forgo his standard trip to the marketplace in the post-battle sequence is appealing in campaigns. As a game mechanic I have been experimenting with this in a couple of the new gangs for MiM. My hope is that every warband has an opportunity for Heroes to be forfeiting their traditional trading action to pursue an alternative. This could be a tactical decision or a story-based choice which supports the narrative of the campaign plot.

All that remains of interest to me is deciphering which of the existing location entries from the original encampments will have value in my campaign.

"The joy of the market place is that you pay for what you get. The curse of life is that you get what you pay for."
— Strigany saying

Juice dreams

Posted by  | Thursday, January 6, 2011  at 7:21 PM  

Heroes in the Old World can sometimes be found tripping on contraband. After a hard-fought battle against mutants or the undead you can't blame them! A small dose of Crimson Shade here, a snuff of warp-tainted Dust there, or chewing on a piece of Weirdroot to induce a hallucinogenic dream-state. In Marienburg, drug cartels and vice houses are rife in the slums. This is where your more hedonistic Heroes will be able to feed their addictions. All of the latest herbal delights are on offer at the Golden Lotus Dream House on Riddra Isle. It is a house of vice in the notorious district called Three Penny Bridge where every watchman fears the most to patrol. At the Golden Lotus any drug can be supplied to a heroic libertine who needs their next fix.

Any warrior visiting the Golden Lotus Dream House for the first time receives 1 Experience Point.

Experience points gained from entering a drug den!? Why not? Experience can still be gained from bad situations. Your indulgent Hero might already thirst for danger if he was sold to the 'Sold To The Pits'. The infamous Dream House is that exotically designed building with an orange roof on Three Penny Bridge.

How does misadventure affect us in the real world? Rather than pit-fighting or drug abuse, consider the famous quotation below and how it applies to my flunking a History exam (even though I dearly loved the subject).

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Educational events from my youth are something I've reflected upon while enjoying my craft hobbies. The benefit of hindsight, living life, and working experiences can lead folk to question their education (I know I have) regardless of how fond you might have been of the syllabus! Look back! You studied Kafka, I had Shakespeare. Decipher what parts of the curriculum have proved the most useful.

I never got a lower grade than a B+ in English at Grammar school until I handed over an assignment which was a story featuring Dwarfs & Trolls. I scored a B- and was horrified. This was subject matter which I felt far more familiar with than a lot of the other crap I turned in! Traumatized, that was my first and last attempt at writing fantasy fiction. The experience evidently haunts me as my English teacher has made occasional cameos in my nightmares, the witch.

I may have failed this examination but I still walked away with the same learning as my classmates who scored an A and didn't give a shit about their History lessons. While I can't ever claim to be an expert historian, the benefit of experience I gained from studying the subject will always be mine to draw upon.

Network of specialists

Posted by  | Wednesday, January 5, 2011  at 6:52 PM  

Mordheim has developed a cult following. The game is a spin-off from Warhammer. While the Specialist Games no longer receive the attention they once did in an official capacity there is still an awful lot of hard work put into developing the Warhammer suite. It is from this which Mordheim campaigning draws inspiration and depth. The support comes from you.

Recently I had the pleasure of sharing a PDF containing all of the best Hired Swords available in Mordheim campaign. Advanced* rules solutions and suggestions in 'Swords of the Empire' have been included to give campaigns more depth and reality. There was brilliant feedback here on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum concerning a number of issues. One of these topics related to enforcing a maximum capacity on the number of Hired Swords appearing with a warband.


The maximum limit placed on Heroes is 6. While a warband would be hard-pressed to employ and retain more than 6 Hired Swords (and see them survive!) it would technically be possible for more to be acquired if a limit was not applied. That being the case I'm supporting the sensible suggestion that a limit of 6 Hired Swords per warband be applied.

A slick new Warband Roster Sheet is now available to record your Hired Swords on, thanks to the established specialist in this field! Sean 'Zetazot' Maroney has updated the roster on behalf of the Mordheim community on previous occasions most recently for Border Town Burning.

Download the new Warband Roster Sheet here:
Mutiny in Marienburg Roster Sheet (PDF, ca. 0.7 MB)

On top of making more efficient use of space the new form was improved to allow for mounts and draft animals to be recorded in the calculation of your warband rating. Other tweaks will appear aesthetic at this stage because the full story concerning campaign 'Plots' and their 'Objectives' is yet to unfold.