How to cleanse a bog stronghold

Posted by  | Saturday, July 20, 2013  at 5:22 PM  

This year for mine and Bob's birthdays I had the original idea of going to Norwegian Wood Café (again) and playing a Mordheim battle (again) with a select crowd of dedicated fans of dice and baked beans!

Once prosperous, Halsdorph a beautiful town of 2,500 souls is now a depressed community haunted by morbid dreams from the nearby Daemon Swamp! Since the earthshaking Night of Terror when the best fields sank it's a place of decay.

The decline of Halsdorph was brought about by clawing monsters from a lost age, led by masters of dark sorcery and daemon lore. Fallen creatures now occupy the mist-wreathed ruins at Halsdorph Keep. Townsfolk abandoned their crumbling homes surrounding the eerie stronghold.

'Heroes Breakfast' was an opportunity for players in my campaign to reconvene, plot schemes and discuss tactics, followed by the Battle of Halsdorph Keep itself. A multi-player Mordheim siege game played in teams, set in the Wasteland region surrounding the city of Marienburg. Two teams of warbands were led by our team captains, plus a renegade player is throwing a spanner in the works as skaven are in the habit of! Newcomer to Mordheim, our special guest player Alex Peake familiarised himself with a specially generated warband of Middenheimers.

Rangers & Zealots led by Witch Hunter General David Jarzembowski
Dave (captain) - Witch Hunters
Stu C - Elf Rangers
Phil - Ogre Maneaters + Dramatis Personae Lisette Leerer
Alex - Middenheim Mercenaries

Brigands & Heretics led by Master Sorcerer Bob Whetton
Bob (captain) - Lords of the Marsh (the Fimir)
Stu W - Marienburg Mobsters
Michelle - Strigany River Gypsies + The Undead

Chris - Skaven Warp Engineers

An operation sanctioned by the Merchant City Council to cleanse Halsdorph is being led by the comely Witch Hunter Annika Bohringer. The righteous crusade has not only been licensed through the council chambers of the Stadsraad. It is being backed by the dreaded League of Gentlemen Entrepreneurs. Ogre lackeys from Tanners Alley take a break from boiling horse-hide to protect dubious business enterprises by accompanying a piratical assassin come femme fatale enforcer for the 'League You Never Heard Of'. Elven rangers guide them across the Cursed Marsh after encountering a company of Ulricans on the Middenheim Road. Knights of the White Wolf are bitter rivals of Sigmarite Templars! A rare opportunity to root out ancient evil was enough to set aside schisms of faith.

As the Witch Hunters close in, the Fimir have called upon shadowy allies to repel the crusade against their hold.

Lisette Leerer Dramatis Personae conversion by Werekin painted by João

The area of the gaming table we used for this battle was approximately 60"x48". The dimension of Halsdorph Keep were approximately 27"x31". Parts of the keep were more dilapidated than others to give the impression of a fortification in state of disrepair. Most of the breaches were shored up using obstacles such as crates, barrels & upturned carts. The ruined gatehouse entrance was barricaded by a wagon belonging to the Mobsters warband. In our rare excursion outside the Marienburg city walls I brought some wilderness terrain out of storage to plant outside the stronghold. The keep was surrounded by derelict outbuildings used to represent abandoned homesteads from the cursed settlement.

The Fallen team deploys first, within Halsdorph Keep or upon its battlements. After the Righteous team has deployed anywhere outside the perimeter of the walls to Haldsorph Keep, each side rolls a dice to decide which team take the first turn. The Underfolk may deploy on any table edge on a turn of their choosing after the first turn has taken place.

The Fallen team won the roll to play first.

Each player on the same team takes their turn simultaneously. Close combat may need to be resolved in order of Initiative. As Chris has elected to play his Skaven warband in the role as renegade, control of the 'house' warband of Undead has been assumed by Michelle. Michelle is deferring to team captain Bob, so both players are sharing ownership of the 4th warband in the Fallen team.

The game ends when all of the warbands on one team have routed or if a team captain routs. Any warbands on the winning side when the game ends earns 2 Campaign Points for winning the battle. The renegade player earns 2 Campaign Points for surviving the battle if casualties were dealt by his warband to a captains warband on the side that routed.

Alliances: Players on the same team cannot break alliances with their team. Warbands on the same team count as friendly models meaning they cannot be attacked by their allies in this battle.

Mist-wreathed Stronghold: As a consequence of their shadowy alliance the warbands on the Fallen team will be enveloped in 'Mystic Mist' (like a bound spell from magical items, the spell means missile fire suffers -1 to hit mist-wreathed targets) at the start of the battle. Fimir ambushers roll in their shooting phase to check whether the mist can be maintained by their bronze talismans of blood.

Captains: Each team captain has the benefit of being able to overrule any of the players on his team. In the event that a team captain's warband is routed then the team captain must nominate a new captain. Players must defer to their team captain in all instances! e.g. If a player would like to voluntarily rout then they will need permission from their team captain.

Morbid Dreams: Sorcerous hallucinations lead warriors to despair and to suffer from night terrors and strange visions! After the battle each Hero in the warband must take a Leadership test. Roll on the chart for the Dream Parlour from Infamous Haunts* for any Hero failing the test.

Undead and daemon models are immune to morbid dreams.

*Infamous Haunts is a works in progress chapter from the 'Mutiny in Marienburg' campaign setting. The effects are similar to drug-induced states and Heroes may end up visiting a drug den as a consequence. Note that a Hero visiting a drug den for the first time gains +1 Experience! At a fee of 10 gold crowns roll a D6 chart when visiting the underworld location named Dream Parlour. The article is currently unpublished but available upon request if you are running a campaign.

While the righteous crusaders pondered how to best four warbands protected by the walls of a mist-wreathed stronghold, the question on everyone's lips inside the keep was who exactly were these mysterious bearded cavalrymen?

Not content with barricading the entrance of the gatehouse with one wagon, the fimir sorceress identified the threat of an enemy wagon approaching. Reaching out with tendrils of dark energy she assumed control of the driver. Ironically the mind of this heroic zealot is usually immune to psychological effects yet the man was no match for the hag. Gripped in the lure of Chaos his wagon ground to a halt sandwiching ogre muscle between both vehicles. Maneaters turned on the wagoneer fearing a rear charge from the mind-twisted Sigmarite. Briefly an ogre considered piloting the wagon before storming the keep in search for wide enough breaches in its aged walls.

The lascars of Ind gave an outstanding account of themselves during the siege. The 'Salamander' Sal Singh and one of his bruisers flew from turret to turret on a magic carpet ride, before unleashing a hail of blackpowder shot. Their expertly timed blunderbuss attack caught the sea elf ranger right in a crossfire. Elves were cut down like corn. Flaxen haired Captain Malfinnor was preening himself in the reflection of his axe blade when the volleys were fired! A rogue harpy seen wearing a studded leather neck brace was also caught in the blast. The taloned beast, a consort for one of the fimir had unwisely dropped down into the smoking path of both mobster musketeers!

In fact the fire fight was so one-sided on the opening turn of the game that the elves called to their Witch Hunter general for a retreat. Annika Bohringer snarled her denial of their craven request to no avail. After realising their full potential as decoys the pointy-eared guides fled involuntarily all the same!

After the rangers routed it was time to separate the men from the elves. Seneschal von Smythe doubled his efforts as the White Wolf knights crashed into hulking scaly adversaries. Meanwhile the wolf-kin scouts found the mark with their longbows making a mockery of the sea elves appalling archery! Undead creatures took the brunt of righteously destructive missiles. Unlike elves they were unbreakable in the face of an onslaught. This zombified front line of ghouls and dire wolves formed a convenient shield of rotting meat for the Strigany. River gypsies learned the value of cooking pots as their makeshift helmets saved them when taking a tumble from tower balconies.

Warlocks were dropping like flies while beneath the ramparts, the Indic cartel enforcer Kala Halavaha (aka the Turbanator) was trying to take on a whole ogre warband! The silk-robed fighter fearlessly defended the gatehouse entrance from a wagon blocking their way into the keep.

In the thick of combat were the mounted cavalrymen from the Ulricberg. Sigmarite and Ulrican blood was spilled as these bitter rivals stood side by side. Leaders from both churches relying on their heavily armoured troops to prevail in the face of bestial fury fuelled by dark sorcery. The Draich and the Strigany Petru weaving spells to swell their own warriors might while debilitating foes. Two knights bearing insignia of the White Wolf were dragged unceremoniously from their noble steeds by clawing muscled arms of amphibian brutes. Not even the barded warhorses offering protection against such feral hate. A combined charge from Wolf-Priest Larsson and the Ulrican Seneschal captaining Middenheim settled the score. Blessings from the God of Winter and Wolves upon the heroes combined with Seneschal's gromril wargear crafted by expert dwarfen engineers spurred the Claws of Ulric on.

A lucky escape for Lisette Leerer. She fell foul of her own notoriety, attracting attention from a trio of opponents in the same combat; fimir noble, guttersnipe and a Chaos troll! Outnumbered three against one, the pirate-assassin found her face hitting marshy loam. Somehow surviving she crawled away while zealots distracted her attackers.

Forge-rats slunk into the fray (after the 2nd round on game turn 17) and unloaded a stinky barrage of poisonous magical gas. The perfume stench from their sparkling globes was all too much for the monstrous fimir. It seemed to have no effect on Singh's mobsmen. Fiendish survivors saved their scaly hides, one by one plunging into brackish bog-water tributaries while their shadowy allies departed across the sunken fields.

Halsdorph has been reclaimed! The cleansing has resulted in the capture of a master sorceress. Just not by the zealotry of either church. Bound, gagged, shipped and sold into slavery by the pirate-rats of Rear-Admiral Krislik's verminous flotilla! The latest anyone has heard that leathery old Draich is now being held captive in a sweaty palace of horse-hide on Tanners Alley by ogre taskmaster Captain Krunk. Cowardice and incompetence of Elf-captain Malfinnor was reported in an official account sent to the City Council by the Witch Hunters. Word that this dereliction of duty compromised the crusade has filtered back to Elftown. The Exarch now considers whether to despatch a Commodore to quell accusations of insubordinate captaincy soiling the Sea Rangers reputation.

The Righteous brothers [left to right: Peakey, Capt Dave, Philip]
In other news, the cartel extorted a lighthouse keeper down at Old Snorri Rocks. Refusing to pay the filthy lascars tithe has angered Salaman Singh. The Indic racketeer now threatens to move on the coastal stockade in Temple district. Local sightings of mutant wreckers in the shape of giant rats wearing tricorn hats have not dissuaded the self-proclaimed pirate-king of the Spice Islands.