Burrow Town Collapsing is an underground scenario for Mordheim promising more tunnels, more bolt-holes, more traps and more objectives than you can handle!
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Burrow Town Collapsing (PDF, ca. 0.3 MB)
A few days prior to our games night the two architects of this dastardly exercise in underground excavation met up to set the scene. It seemed only appropriate that Chris 'Frogprince' Kneller & I be laying the city foundations! As we are playing skaven and elf warbands, who along with dwarf artisans shaped the sprawling dungeon network found beneath the city-port. Rear-Admiral Krislik would be bullying his warp-engineers & pirate rats. Elf-Captain Malek skippers the sea elf ranger crew of his Moon Guardians patrol.
"All sorts of scavengers in the sewers. There are things you wouldn't believe living in the stew."
— Acting Sergeant Rudi, Sewer Watch
Typically the 'Mutiny in Marienburg' underground scenario sees two or more players contesting a section of the sewer network used for smuggling contraband cargo. One of the players takes on the role of the smuggler gang by being assigned cargo objective markers. The sewer network unfolds during the game as tiles are explored by warriors. Tiles are placed using a grid. The simple grid is used to control the layout of the unexplored network guaranteeing sewer sections link up. This ensures warbands will meet during the course of the game.
We playtested underground games using a rapidly expanding set of guidelines and charts. In two player battles it becomes possible for a very lucky smuggler to avoid their opponent but the expected outcome is that a turf war is fought by opposing sides. With more players involved things become more intriguing when the size of the grid increases to accommodate additional models.
Once I felt everyone in our group was satisfied with the conditions of the scenario we began making preparations for a grandiose multi-player game using a super-size dungeon. Following the scenario principals, eight of us played a sewer game using a customised tile layout. Smugglers were invited to choose from my collection of cargo markers instead of randomising what freight is available. Having no unexplored sewer section meant there was no formal grid required. Custom sections featured non-player models, bonus objective markers and some additional dungeon events; tangle with bearded daemon-smiths at their infernal forge, plunder the tombs beneath a Garden of Morr, launch a raid on an illegal distillery, free prisoners from a castle dungeon or rescue a rooster from the halfling cooking pot! A couple of hidden rooms would also be revealed to players who 'thought on their feet' as the game unfolded.
One additional house rule was applied for this important battle to help everyone stay in the game. The first time a warband failed their rout check then they could ignore the fail result.
Factions: 3x smugglers, 2x law enforcement agencies, 3x predatory species
Lascar sea-dogs whipped by professed Indic pirate lord Salaman Singh. The reputation of the 'Salamander' is preceded by his lethal enforcer Kala Halavaha. Their run set them towards fulfilling warband objectives from 'The Secret Deal' plot. To achieve bonus Campaign Points the cartel muscle are weighed down by sacks and chests loaded with booty, all being hauled back to the hideaway of the racketeer.
Bounty of choice among the grave despoiling exiles of Strigos happens to be coffins. Pine boxes used to smuggle weapons, corpse dirt and cadavers. Dragging their preferred load ties in with the 'Promise of Power' plot from our campaign. River gypsy gangs are never a welcome sight on the canals. It is rumoured the shadowy Dola family keep a dark secret. Will it be revealed under torchlight?
Guiding the Man-eaters of Tanners Alley, was a Dramatis Personae by the name of Lisette Leerer, Saleswoman, Assassin and Enforcer for the League of Gentlemen Entrepreneurs, the largest organised crime network in the city. The ogres led by Captain Krunk elected to smuggle barrels as this cargo supports their MiM campaign plot 'The Body Trade'.
Witch hunter Annika Bohringer sailed from the spires of Altdorf to the fish-stink of Marienburg. In her latest bid to secure a license from the City Council to root out heresy in the port she descends below the waterline supported by her heavily armed retinue of femme fatales and frothing zealots! Not only do the Templars have a pair of warhounds, one huntress is a master of beasts with a tiger at the heel of her boot. Mutants had best beware when this big cat is let off its leash!
Player 5 - Sea Elves (Werekin)
Piracy comes in all shapes and sizes! Parts of the Cursed Marshes surrounding Marienburg are infested with grobi. The smallest looters come from tribes of swamp goblins plunder the River Reik in hit and run raids! Their maggoty lairs are connected by subterranean warrens. Underground tunnels cross old smuggling routes tracing back to the advent of when men arrived in what was once known as Westerland. Diminutive pirates like Captain Stinkfoot use them when sneaking his crew into port on a nocturnal salvage raid.
Player 7 - Fimir (Bob)
Engineers from Clan Skyre squirt the musk of fear as they're being sent to find out what the heck is going on in Undertown. Along with their Clan Scurvy pirate allies hoping the place won't collapse around their ears! The scenario title is a homage to Border Town Burning, a supplement for Mordheim which featured a dungeon scenario called Horrors of the Underground. It's something Black Library author C.L. Werner mentioned to me. Skaven dupe Clint was complimenting the completion of that setting. He offered his services if we should work on a 'Burrow Town Collapsing' game for Mordheim. Well here it is!
The eight players deployed their warbands. We have predetermined eight entry points. These were designated based on theme. Ogres set off from a Dwarf mine tunnel being wider than the adjoining sewer corridors. Goblins started by entering through their warrens leading into an orcish den. Skaven poured from a effluence pipe into a warp-engineers lab. Strigany Gypsies dropped down into ancient tombs from a private burial mound. Fimir reached the dungeons when they swam in via a dilapidated canal inlet. Smugglers from the Spice Islands of Ind crawled in from a sewer grate.
Starting the game
It was mutually decided between two local law enforcement constabularies that we should be leading things off in this escapade. After receiving an anonymous tip about mutants on the loose plus witchcraft happening in or beneath the Craftsmarket and Dead Canal, the fearsome Templars ploughed down a stairway in a distillery leading into an illegal cellar bar. Moon Guardians from Elf Town entered via the Floodwall control room for a Dwarfen aqueduct.
With eight players it is necessary for players to take turns in pairs. One pair take their turn while two more players oversee movement and dice results. This helps keeps things moving. After the law agents had begun the game, it's the Mobsters and Fimir who are currently adhering to the ceasefire terms of a treaty in our campaign! They were followed by the Strigany and Man-eaters. Lastly the Goblin Pirates and Skyre Engineers are taking their turns.
Our opening rounds involved warbands establishing what perils awaited them in the dark depths of the Marienburg Grand Sewer Network. A few warbands experienced mould slowing them down. Batches of magic mushrooms were plucked from damp crevasses. The first event rolled was a powder store. Somehow our group always end up with powder kegs galore when we venture underground! We've even modified the event chart to reduce the likelihood of rolling this result. A few of the players managed to locate powder kegs in the opening round despite this. Eventually we would run out of powder keg markers and result to using plastic gold crowns to keep track of kegs.
Witch Hunters don't usually drink on duty but these pious Sigmarites had entered through a cellar bar! They elected not to partake in the mysterious alcohols on tap. Things were a little rough in the bar room but any wild blows struck by rowdy patrons brushed off these heavily armoured Templars as they went about their business.
A couple of traps were set off around the dungeon. A complex trap was sprung by one of the smugglers from the Indic cartel! Swinging blades chopped past as the smuggler deftly sprung out of the way. With the danger presented by the recurring slice of the trap they began seeking an alternative route when the elves refused to send their trap expert across to deactivate the blade trap. When Webby beseeched me to help him out with this I offered to comply on the understanding that he used the trap to chop his Dark Elf Apprentice Assassin in two with it first! This pesky druchii Hired Sword has avoided death a few times too many in our campaign so far for my liking. He wasn't enamoured by my deal so his trap remained activational.
Two careless goblin mates were washed down an aqueduct whilst looting the ancient temple. One was only flushed round a U-bend. The other unlucky greenskin found himself surfing along a spout full of slurry into a spider nest. After biting the goblin to death in a sewer drain, these bloated arachnids fell under the control of a nearby elf Hero using an animal charm.
The only combat situations anticipated in our opening meet was to be warbands fighting their way past sewer hazards. Most of the Marienburg gangs got stuck-in straight away as giant spiders, giant rats or worse attacked them in the darkness. One of the fun additional features in store was the first two giant rat packs were each going to be chased by a cat! These fun to use models are represented in our games by using the rules for the Trickster-priest of Ranald's cat companion from my Priests of the Empire article - Miracles Workers. One of the shop locations in a future planned article 'Marketplace' allows Heroes to visit a pet emporium to order speciality animals. The chart for strange pets included cats as one entry. They prove popular in games causing mischief in combat. I amended the animal to polecats in my draft copy, after reading the Orion: The Vaults of Winter in which a pair of these critters do a brilliant job of harassing the Cygor from a horde of beastmen!
One of the polecats ran down a corridor chasing rats amongst the Strigany. Michelle has a Hero with the animal charming skill 'Rat Charmer'. She turned on the ability to take control of the rats and bagged herself a free cat companion for her mystical Petru the process! Adding these animals to the snake and hunting bird kept by members of their crew the Strigany are turning their watercaravan ark into a menagerie of beasts! The other cat sprang out in the company of the Moon Guardians 2nd Company. One of the elf Heroes in my warband now receives the same benefits as the waterfront witch from Michelle's gypsy crew.
Reviewing my drafted report it became clear that I'd skirted around the finer details concerning individual combats. Presented with an adventure of this magnitude the finer points of close combat can be addressed in another battle featuring only a couple of rival factions.
Upon reflection it is worth highlighting that Heroes from the Fimir warband managed to seek an audience with the daemon bound to the Chaos crossroad sewer section. This objective room relies on followers of Chaos carrying a wyrdstone item onto the crossroad tile to attract the daemon's favour. Bob has been feverishly following his campaign objectives to the point where he has tapped into the power in the stones!
By visiting an Alchemist in post battle sequences, each Hero in the Fimir warband now carries a stone of power. The gaze of the Dark Gods long since left the amphibious followers of Chaos and Bob is looking to set the record straight. The daemon was willing to bestow a sliver of his essence on a few of the already 'gifted' Heroes. Bob has rolled a lot of characteristic increases for his Heroes making them all a serious threat in close combat. It's only fitting that the wyrdstone items they carry spur the occasional mutation. As yet none has degenerated into becoming a Chaos Spawn. I think that Bob would quite like that!
As it stands the two Young Nobles and his Shearl (that lad's got talent) have acquired a Daemon Soul which allows a valuable 4+ save against magic attacks.
A memorable moment from this session was when the Draich used a Chaos ritual to take control of a giant's mind. The chained guardian was blocking their path through a fighting pit. Alas they couldn't use the titan to smash their enemies with but they were able to duck past unscathed. Some of the amphibians took the opportunity to duck down a trapdoor leading off to another quarter of the sewers on the northern edge.
Whilst Bob's fimir lost advantages gained overground for their 'Mystic Mist' spell of protection, João's swamp pirates were enjoying all the perks gained from goblins night vision! A couple of ghoul nests were disturbed in the course of the evening. The goblins keen eyes did not help them fighting these crypt dwelling fiends! We managed to eat a buffet and play a full rounds 3 rounds in an evening which totals 27 game turns when you include the sewer denizens.
Reconvening after the weekend our group set about the task of drinking teas and eating biscuits whilst dungeon bashing our way through the next three rounds of nail-biting action!
A couple of the mobsters with high Initiative had duck past the swinging blades. The rest of Webby's criminal gang were following a new tactic. After realising that his cartel would be following behind the ogres if they chose to go one of the other routes, he began climbing them down into a sewer channel. For the rest of the session half the mob fell face-first into the stew while those landing on their feet waded through slurry at half their movement rate.
After being double-teamed by the mob enforcer and a guttersnipe who made it past the complex trap, an elf Hero found himself enslaved. Suffering from madness the Feastmaster had scouted ahead of his elven crew. There was no way out of this predicament as both Heroes picked up the Slaver special skill available Mobsmen. I was disappointed but reasonably content in the knowledge that the cartel would do the right thing and free my elf if they won the game. Not routing is the only condition allowing them to keep all captured models.
A second complex trap was triggered in this session by elves. Ironically it grilled the spider-charming elf trapper shortly before he foolishly detonated a Cathayan firepot while still holding it! Cathayan candles are good like that. Roll a 1 and the bloody firestick blows your own guys head off. My first roll was a 2 so I used a rabbit's foot to re-roll in order to throw the bombas amongst the Mobsmen advancing towards one of the main objective rooms. I felt violated when it came up as a 1! The elf Hero had the trap expert skill yet failed a roll required to disarm the device. His run of bad luck ended as the firepot blasted him against the ceiling and caused a cave-in as a result.
There were other cave-in's occurring around the sewer network. One tunnel collapse event happened in the vicinity of the ogres and goblins. They had alternative routes meaning it was of no consequence. Another cave-on event was triggered by a noisy witch hunter stomping over near where the fimir warband was lurking. They too pursued an alternative route.
Rats ahoy! Elsewhere in the sewers ratmen began being taken out of action by more giant spiders. Some skaven warriors were effectively besieged by spider attacks on all sides! While Chris rolled badly and swore loudly, in another corner of the dungeon the ogres were making easy work of a spider attack.
Captain Krunk's ogres encountered a warp bat which passively fluttered past in search of wyrdstone objects. They were greeted by an Old Prospector in the dwarf mine shafts. Before Lisette Leerer established a rapport with the Hired Sword an ogre mountain guide barrelled the old codger under one arm and marched off to the next section!
The Strigany made very slow progress through the sewers carrying a lot of loot! Giant rats having been charmed into helping the pirates on their way were killed pestering the fimir! After struggling to push past the marsh monsters, a different route was agreed, but it would involve acting innocent in front of witch hunters.
Annika Bohringer had split her forces into three. One lone Hero had scouted an open route ahead of the skaven while they fought their war with arachnids. They weren't likely to chase too closely after her for she was accompanied by her pet tiger! Most of the witch killers advanced peacefully through a stretch of corridor lined with dungeon cells where eight hostages were held under lock and key. Seemingly there were no heretics among the prisoners as the remaining hunters and their hounds moved off to inspect a weapons rack and a fortified doorway.
With no warbands looking to voluntarily rout any time soon we made arrangements for the third gathering. The game being set up in Chris & Michelle's gaming room as a semi-permanent fixture meant we would be able to continue until a natural ending could be reached.
Our third session was explosive. The Strigany caravanmaster's plan to avoid the Templars had worked for a while, up until the Petru started practising the dark arts! Following the loss of their Dommu leader, in desperation a coffin fell open and out sprang a grumpy vampire! One foolhardy fimir noble had inadvertently woke a slumbering Strigoi who got out the wrong side of his coffin! The fimir ambushers were shaken by the Strigany Old Father who sought to settle scores after the premature loss of the Dola gang's caravanmaster. Beneath the Craftsmarket the Draich had coaxed a handful of her warriors through a secret tunnel leading north to where a witch hunter was examining a custom made weapon. She was surprised as the amphibians sprung from a trapdoor only to collapse on the floor due to the mouldy conditions in the armoury! One fimir Hero managed to pull himself together in time to receive her charge.
Mobsmen found themselves in fiery hell when they passed through a powder store. With steady hands Elf-Captain Malek unloaded a shot from his handgun that struck a barrel of powder, showing why his crew nicknamed him the Albatross. The explosion detonated a second keg flattening the lascars! Although cave-in's were avoided, this turn of events has thrown a spanner in the smugglers plans. By this point my elf lawbringers are similarly hanging on by a thread. The same goes for the Rear-Admiral's pirate rats after the body count from spider attacks rose to five. One combat swung in the rats favour when a Black Skaven named Commander Spike took down Kala Halavaha after scurrying up the enforcer's inside leg! Sal Singh's right-hand has picked up the nickname 'Turbanator' in our campaign after the destruction he has wreaked on enemy warriors. He won't live this melee down in a hurry and things were looking decidedly dicey for the cartel.
Ogre slavers bargained with fire dwarfs over a daemon weapon after visiting their forge! In exchange for a treasure chest they now possess a daemon-possessed blade. Before entering the Chaos engineers weapons depot a couple of the Man-eater Heroes did battle with two large tunnel wyrms (borrowed from Cianty's Horrors of the Underground scenario). They were represented as the head and the tail of the beast. The wyrm's tail thrashed until it went flaccid from heavy ogre boots stamping on it! After being repeatedly punched in the maw by a talented half-grown ogre Hero the limbless drake disappeared back into the crevasse from whence it came.
While their captain-led trio haggles with Chaos dwarfs over trade negotiations the rest of the ogres were fighting a turf war. Goblins swarmed the network of pipes. The ogres path was temporarily blocked by a river troll. Lisette Leerer cleared the tunnel by unbalancing the slimy regenerator in a pile of its own vomit. Proving she's all woman the assassin followed the troll. This was a combat that she couldn't win. João was passing nearly all his rolls to regenerate the troll. When the troll regenerated four wounds in one round (4+ to regenerate trolls) it dawned on Phil that he'd do better to concentrate on the smuggling mission at hand! Lisette broke off her attack. Fleeing from combat was simple enough while the troll was flailing around in sewage and vomit.
By the end of the night Captain Stinkfoot was missing in action after a run in with flea-bitten pirate-rats. The rest of his swabs and their finely cast 'white' squig (pro-sculpted from a lump of plasticene by Michelle at short notice) fled for the swamps with a barnacled treasure chest they found in an old temple that looked like it was surely too big for goblins to carry!
A witch hunter being chased by the warp bat was carrying a tainted item. She plummeted from a walkway to land in the unexplored city vault! This unexpected turn of events closed the night with the secret room tile being revealed.
Before the start of our final stretch the cartel gracefully decided to bow out. As the tenth round began, after assessing the damage and current state of play I decided that my sea elf rangers needed to do the same.
Clan Skyre warp-engineers were routed by ogres in the opening couple of turns. Under a barrage of rapier attacks rat-of-the-hour Commander Spike was polished off by none other than Ms Leerer waving her stiletto with rapier in deadly unison.
The bestial force of Old Night managed to force his way past the fimir warriors before succumbing to injuries. The leaderless Strigany tried to press on after the Strigoi was put out of action only to encounter a chained giant who refused to fall. Throwing every projectile they had at it ultimately proved futile. Although a dwarf slayer pirate who joined the gypsy crew blew a few holes in the giant to score himself some bonus experience points before the rout. With the witch hunters right on their tail, they had no choice but to stuff their Old Father back in his box and just leg it!
The Templar captain proved that her cult of Sigmarites has nerves of steel. Finding a casket of legend with magical properties after falling off a narrow walkway and seeing their captain escaping his doom in a temple of pain. Outlasting the monstrous fimir who surprisingly made a break. The cold-blooded phantoms found themselves routing at the crucial moment when one ripped the first of four prison doors off in the dungeon cell block.
Four ogres marching under Lisette Leerer's guidance made acrobatic jumps down from a raised dais and then dexterousness abandoned her as the assassin fell gracelessly to the flagstone floor. They scooped her up before advancing unchallenged up a stairwell below a magician's shop in the Craftsmarket.
Ending the game
1st place: After bartering a chestful of treasures with twisted dwarf engineers the Ogre Man-eaters came away with daemon weapon! Loaded down with wine barrels the ogres stormed up a stairwell leading into the basement of a Magician's Workshop, nabbing themselves an alchemists flask of Nehekharan Fire!
2nd place: Rumours have circulated that a magical casket had arrived in the city. It has fallen into the hands of the Thieves' Guild. Witch Hunters held until the last and secured this legendary arfefact recovered from an underworld vault! The huntress carrying the wyrdstone item fell foul of its warp-tainting presence. Waking to find she has birthed a third arm! Normally the taint would see her purged of corruption through fire and brimstone. A recent acquisition of her Blood Stone talisman has led the covetous Witch Hunter Captain into a quandary over whether the mutation is perhaps a blessing in disguise. She may choose to let sleeping dogs lie or elect do the right thing and burn the altered flesh after all.
3rd place: Lords of the Marsh slew a watch patrol guarding dungeon cells before fleeing from the cells occupants upon realising their purity had already been compromised by one of the guards!
WANTED - Skaven skulls. Kala Halavaha will pay 5 gold guilders for every rat taken out of action.
WANTED - for crimes against the Free city of Marienburg
Kala Halavaha for uttering seditious talk of giant bipedal rats in order to spread civil unrest and destabalise the economic growth of the city.
The merchant councillors of the Stadsraad have spoken! The dirty lascar Kala Halavaha must turn himself in or face the wrath of Lord Justicar Ambrosius Aloysis, who is currently busy dealing with the local marsh gas problem.
Photography: Bob Whetton click on images to enlarge photographs
Additional photos: Frogprince (of chained giant) and João (of Bob)
Custom quest room tiles: thebard108 and Talion78
Painted miniatures: Werekin (Ogres, Elves, dungeon doors & objective markers),
Frogprince (Skaven), Geekgirl (Strigany), Bob (Fimir) and João (River Troll)