Fool's gold

Posted by  | Friday, November 7, 2014  at 7:39 PM  

Annual battle day is an affair featuring Mordheim regulars plus guest friends. Organised to coincide with my birthday each year there needs to be festive conditions. Surprises were various this year.

[L-R] Gold diggers arrive at Erlach: Chopper, Ant, João, Bob, Phil
A tiring excursion through Little Country, beyond the city walls of Marienburg. Site of once proud delvers is Erlach, a mining colony in the shadow of the Pale Sisters mountain range. Historically dwarf prospectors excavated the wild foothills of the Wasteland region. Most of its riches have been plucked over the years leaving slim pickings. For those canny diggers bold enough to venture deeper into untapped crevices could be a heap of spoils or the curse of greed.

Hosting the get together in my father's garage provided a change of scene in more than one sense. For this unique occasion that themed mountain board built for our Border Town Burning adventure came out of retirement. It has been kept stored in the garage ever since we completed our campaign at Games Workshop Poole set in the Cathayan borderlands. Another highlight was the refreshing keg of Bugman's Ale acquired for players to wet their whistles throughout the day.

We have enjoyed playing team scenarios before rather than battle royale style multi-player battles. These play a lot quicker based on shared turn sequences. This year's event used a chapter written for the occasion. It was published on Liber Malefic before the event in my last article; Quest for nostalgia. Golden opportunities to play doubles games using paired teams of like-minded factions don't come up often. A narrative campaign that is deeply rich as Mutiny in Marienburg provides a satisfying landscape for this story of adventure.

As much as I revel in the gaming experience itself, the set up for a tabletop battle like this is something to be appreciated in equal measure. This years encounter was memorably planned out with the assistance of fellow TBMF member João Sousa. The Portuguese-man has an eye-catching collection of Citadel memorabilia that includes lots of villagers plus a small throng of bearded characters. João has a soft spot for the stout fellows! This provided us with ample excuse to populate the entire plateau of my mountain board with beautifully painted civilians, both Umgi and Dawi. For every warband participating in the battle there will be six colonists. That was what my scenario quoted! An even mix of 48 villagers and prospectors representing the colonists of Erlach. Deploying this amount of cannon fodder colonists becomes a tactical quandary in its own right.

First at the scene was Bob. Earlier when we agreed times I hadn't factored in extra times for picking up João. That included loading his miniatures and terrain being transported to the mountain. Bob was tapping his watch when we arrived, asking "what time did we call this?" and to be fair we were running later than planned. Fortunately I had erected the board and set out my collection of miniatures in advance. What followed was a bit of reassembly work on some mountainside causeways damaged in storage. The signpost to Mordheim from Shang-Yang was repaired. João unpacking his themed terrain piece followed by miniatures representing two dwarf warbands, a goblin pirate flotilla and 48 mining colonists.

Antony arrived shortly after to signal that it was time for the colony to be deployed. Together the defending team of João and Ant creatively positioned the colonists and their respective warband pairing of Dirty Ruddy Stunties. Rangers guided by a Runesmith Journeyman and Noble led band of Treasure-hunters.

Mountain defence squad - Ant & João deploy the Dawi miners
While dwarfs were busy populating the plateau, three corners of the tabletop were assigned among three raiding partnerships. Each corner of the foothills posed different variables but it was clear that one corner was more favourable while another was most undesirable. Allocations were made based on treating higher warband ratings as a handicap upon arrival of Phil and our special guest player representing two more teams. Their team partners would be appearing later in the day due to family and working commitments, meaning these lone rangers would be deploying two warbands each then captaining both through an interim period.

The next phase following deployment was lunch, home cooked by Mother Cresswell. Fried chicken was well received. Washed down nicely by steins of Proper Job XXXXXX brewed by St. Austell Bugman's brewery.

In order of warband ratings (Team 1 = lowest, Team 4 = highest) Coham's Barbarians deployed on the North-East edge at the foot of the steepest route where warriors would ascend the vertical mount using a network of wooden causeways and a rope bridge. Ivory Road Warriors deployed on the South-East edge at the base of a winding incline most easily traversed by vehicles or large models. Predators deployed on the South-West edge had the unenviable task of scaling a sequence of rickety platforms before joining a windy mountain road leading to mine entries at the summit.

Business partnerships in the Free City

Team 1 - Dirty Ruddy Stunties
Dwarf Rangers & Dwarf Treasure Hunters
João Sousa & Antony Bowker

Team 2 - Coham's Barbarians
Cult of Stromfels & Norse Explorers
Ham Haslett & Andy 'Chopper' Extance

Team 3 - Ivory Road Warriors
Ogre Maneaters & Battle Monks of Cathay
Phil Card & 'Canada' Steve Hume

Team 4 - Predators
Fimir Ambushers & Swamp Goblins
Bob Whetton & Stu Cresswell

Conspicuous by their absence were a fourth proposed team 'Mice & Men'. The pirate alliance of Clan Skyre & Clan Skurvy duping a water-caravan of Strigany river gypsies. They never sailed due to house moving commitments made by the Hayward-Steeles (Chris & Michelle). No sign either of other campaign regulars, Witch Hunters or Salaman Singh's cartel gang of lascars from the Spice Islands.

Making up the numbers this year are two seasoned campaigners. We have the long-awaited return of the mysterious Cathayans led by local wine merchant Steve Hume (aka Canada or Cad). Even longer since is the return of a very welcome guest, my old schoolmate Andy who commanded a tribe of hoary Norse sailors in our first ever annual campaign battle day: South Dock Massacre. With all the dwarfs on site it would be suicidal to walk a troupe of sea elves into their mining village. For the sake of rounding out the team partnerships João handed over his goblins warband to me, pairing up diminutive swamp-pirates with the Lords of the Marsh.

Campaign rewards for participating in this battle would be hard fought over. There was potential for uncovering spoil heaps of gold, hoarded treasures, warp-touched trinkets of cursed dwarf gold, plus a single chance at uncovering one of the Greater Artefacts speculated to be moving through Marienburg and the Wasteland at this time. Specifically we are talking about a war mask with magic properties cast from solid gold. An artefact currently associated with rival factions in the city.

Perilous features of the scenario are the involvement of considerable non-player characters. João & I discussed options for this monstrous cast of wanderers and dormant denizens. In the end settling on a suite of wandering monsters for random happenings in addition to possible scary outcomes when exploring the mines. Of these the deadliest outcomes are waking a great beast snoozing in one of the mines or attracting the attention of a migrating giant.

As (rotten) luck would have it the barbarians attracted the giant in only their second turn of the battle, presumably using their loathsome body odour, a mix of goat piss, virgins blood & honey mead!

Motivation for my giant comes in the form of Fighting Fantasy monster sized miniatures. They featured in the pages of the first Warhammer rulebooks that I clapped eyes on. As a consequence Citadel's first plastic miniatures ever released (in 60mm scale!) hold great significance to me. It was with glee that I set about bastardising a large scale resin release from Forge World. At a similar time David Stafford was working on a giant sized resin piece for his collection so that provided further inspiration to me. What started life as a limited edition stone troll has since become the (even more limited edition) giant cyclops. This was a hobby project being planned since testing the Manhunt scenario from Border Town Burning supplement.

A big change to the administration of warbands at this get together was that everyone has gone digital with their roster sheet. This was a carefully planned move. After releasing the new format of Fillable PDF warband roster sheet the guys in my campaign were quick to pick this up. We transferred all warband details from paper rosters onto these 'smart scrolls' in the weeks prior to battle day. In theory we could host all our rosters in a public folder on the Dropbox.

At this point it will not be easy to relay all the specifics of our battle. Some of us were drinking ale. Fortunately we have a sequence of photographs captured during the battle that may help to piece together some of the important moments. These can be viewed by visiting the 'Mordheim Timeline' widget in the sidebar. Scroll down to 28th June. The live feed for this battle was run using my Twitter account @Mordheimer allowing me to send images and submit captions from the game straight into the shared digital feed on Liber Malefic.

Antony departed for personal reasons or perhaps because the keg was running low when he realised he was riding his bicycle home drunk from the village. Did I mention my parents aptly live in a village!?

Bob departed due to work commitments before 'Canada' Steve and Ham would arrive. It was as if the Ruinous Powers were trying to steer the fimir raid from beyond the Realm of Chaos, as written prompts and audio memorandums sent by Bob were received continuously on my handset via Whatsapp as the game progressed in his absence!

Blood brothers - Chopper & Ham lead a Chaos barbarian charge
Things went up a gear when Steve arrived. As João, Phil & I were flagging Steve started calling some shots that helped lead his Battle Monks within sight of the scenario objectives. While the ogres had looked likely to get bogged down by the tide of colonists under Phil's leadership, Steve's boundless enthusiasm drove the monks and maneaters over the summit into the heart of the colony. The rest of us must have been too fatigued from commanding efforts from the front line. Mistakes were being made due to modifying tactics based on a frantic scramble to reach the plateau. The mountain was beating us and we knew it!

A clunky schedule of arrivals and departures had physical repercussions on the outcome of battle day. With the hour being late my dear mother's decision to call time (kick out!) on the same round the first wave of barbarians scaled the summit. A decision that came as a relief to João who like myself had been courteously abandoned by his team partner. Andy weathering the full days events in real time better than the rest and Ham being fresh to the table, Coham's Barbarians were desperate for one more round of turns to reach two objectives in their grasp! In the end it wasn't to be. Ivory Road Warriors was the only team to reach objectives with a running time that clocked over ten hours. Of the two objectives they secured only one entry reaped a positive result in the mines. A single nugget of cursed dwarf gold was enough to claim victory.

Ham assessing the vista beyond the reach of his barbarian host
What comes next? Back room deals to be struck in a thematic post-battle sequence to be hosted by Steve in the privacy of his liquor store after hours.

Stu + Steve outside the old liquor store, at Tatnam in Poole town

Quest for nostalgia

Posted by  | Wednesday, May 14, 2014  at 11:58 PM  

Lead your group of brave adventurers through the perilous dungeons of the Warhammer world in the search for wealth and glory!

For quite some time now I have been relishing the opportunity of getting my hands dirty in the dungeons of Rodeo Games adaptation of the Warhammer Quest board game. After downloading this game from the app store I did eventually fire it up to relive the old days of dungeon questing, through the magic of tablet technology.

At the same time I have been putting the finishing touches to my draft for this year's grand campaign battle. An annual multi-player Mordheim bash featuring special guests, this year's event is set to take place in my fathers garage! After discussing the theme and premise of the scenario with João Sousa (who has a new blog called Fistful of Minis) we came up with a suitable plan. Oh, the adventure requires player aids. Here are some advance previews to download!

Download - Scenario 17: Colony of Plenty (PDF, ca. 0.2 MB)

Download - Marketplace (PDF, ca. 0.8 MB)

Download - Unknowable Cargo (PDF, ca. 0.5 MB)

The game is being played over the mountain gaming board that was constructed for the Border Town Burning campaign! At the moment the main table top is hidden under a blanket, stuffed behind a load of crap in the garage corner. Shelob moved in! Time to blow out the cobwebs. There will be last minute repairs made from cats jumping about on the tinder causeways. It promises to be nostalgic.

Returning to the subject of quests. Playing the Warhammer Quest app is a nostalgia trip. For those familiar with the original game there will be many old memories that come flooding back. My barbarian hero is like a faithful returning friend, the wood elf is now a waywatcher and I've been allowed to replace the dwarf with an ogre! The grey-robed wizard is a poor excuse for a shadowmancer so I replaced him with the witch hunter character. When travelling between settlements there are some inspiring graphics been modelled to demonstrate settlements the Stirland, Reikland and Averland provinces. Hopefully more will be added for players who are more addicted to questing than myself.

The topical subject I wished to raise is that of magic artefacts. Not only can items be quested for and bought using gold crowns but they can also be purchased on the app store using cold hard cash. Seems like cheating to me. You can't buy Gotrek's Axe in the Warhammer World! But in this game you can. The famed weapon 'Sunfang' can be snapped up at the bargain price of a few pounds. What would Prince Tyrion of Ulthuan have to say about that. According to lore only he has wielded it, beyond Aenarion himself.

Good luck wrestling that sword away from the blood of Aenarion! But wait, it gets better. A friend of mine who has bought the app and is more technical than me had this to say...

"Embarrassingly rodeo do not know the first thing about app security and put all the in app purchases for WHQ into an easily modified config file. What would you recommend as a starting party given I have access to all characters. Now my inventory is so full of premium items that I will need to throw away. Staff of Volans does look really cool though."

Egrimm van Horstmann infamously raided the vaults beneath the College of Light for rare arcana. There have been a number of classic stories of greater artefacts falling into unexpected hands following unusual circumstances. This one must take the cake. The receiver of the artefact cache is actually talking about disposing of the Staff of Volans! Unlike fans of lore, he has no clue that Volans was the first Supreme Patriarch for the Colleges of Magic. It won't just be hierophants throwing their hands up in despair because the ancient staff presented to Volans by Teclis benefits not only wizards from the College of Light!

Of course this heist brings us back round to the Marienburg setting. In the City of Secret Deals any item can be sought at the right price. If thieves could unwittingly lay their hands on Ghal-Maraz during the Black Death in Time of Legends, and now Staff of Volans then any greater artefact could be considered fair game for pickpockets.

The six items I ferreted out as seeming appropriate for the Mutiny in Marienburg campaign are not quite as famed as those two mighty weapons but they should put an interesting spin on your Mordheim campaign games. Rolling a 6 on the Greater Artefacts Chart means living the dream. Unlike accessing the app store you need to do something to earn it!

On a final note the download for 'Marketplace' is not 100% complete although it may look it. This player aid contains a lot of useful entries that need to be shared with anyone utilising other MiM downloads. The Greater Artefacts Chart ties in with various chapters including this new special scenario and the Magician's Workshop in Potion Square. One of my favourite features is the Animal Emporium. The final entry here was for a Geckamand.

The chameleonic fire-lizard came about when I encountered a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay web site where the hosts were adapting material from my Mordheim campaign for their Marienburg roleplay adventure. The lascar, Salaman Singh was featured in all his despicable glory as a crime-lord in their roleplay adventure. In their RPG campaign the 'Salamander' from the Spice Islands of Ind makes an appearance along with a dog-sized subterranean creature he keeps as a pet in his hot steamy boudoir! It seemed only appropriate to reshuffle the chart to account for the discovery.

"I don't trust playwrights. They can be paid. The vanity of other men is their master, not the truth."
— Captain Meisen of the Scarlet Blades, Averland Mercenary

Merchant scroll

Posted by  | Wednesday, April 30, 2014  at 11:09 PM  

As the Portable Document Format file continues to supersede scrolls and tomes from a bygone age, many of us find ourselves torn between the disposable convenience of hi-tech software and the comfortable mustiness of hardback books.

Experience points have been lovingly notated on paper printed Warband Roster sheets for every tabletop campaign since the dawn of my virgin discovery of wyrdstone shards in Mordheim. Each piece of treasure, each new skill, each characteristic increase, each injury has been jotted with pencil on a sheet of crinkled parchment. An eraser on hand to rub out spent equipment or lost items, a sharpener kept handy to keep the HB pencil tip at a point. All of that is about to change. Record keeping will never be the same.

In the Marienburg campaign I have been running, one of our group members has been using a digital roster sheet for his warband. A number of of us are using phones to check player aids, articles or rulebooks. Now that gizmos like tablets and smart phones are becoming more affordable I decided it was worth investing in some new hardware. As a consequence I looked into the complexity of creating a Fillable PDF for the Marienburg warband roster sheet. Combining science and sorcery I have developed a new editable roster sheet.

Completed Norse warband example roster sheet - Fillable PDF (PDF, ca. 2.6 MB)

Mutiny in Marienburg warband roster sheet - Fillable PDF (PDF, ca. 2.6 MB)

Apologies for providing a downloadable file that is chock full of entries for hoary heathens from the Northern Wastes! This is my example roster based on a Norse warband following the 'Gaze of the Gods' plot in a Marienburg campaign.

"There are no problems in Marienburg which can't be solved. Handrich willing, of course."
— Artemus van Loenhoek, Scribe

In the process of downloading and opening this player aid you will have the opportunity to to play around with the file. Delete undesired text entries and click on check boxes that have been marked with skill types, experience points and campaign points.

"This is Marienburg, lad. People are always talking. Incessantly, as a matter of fact. Can't get them to shut up."
— Abbott Knock, Priest of Myrmidia

Merchant princes, Cult magisters, Watch commanders and Cartel gang bosses with a preference for digital record keeping will be able to open this smart scroll on their magic tablets to maintain their Marienburg manifests!

Thank you to Zetazot for the original warband roster sheet designs for Border Town Burning and Mutiny in Marienburg.

True detectives

Posted by  | Thursday, April 17, 2014  at 1:02 PM  

Felons are warriors in your campaign being identified as known criminals. Placing these models under arrest means that a player could score additional campaign points.

“Something is rotten in Marienburg. It’s a human saying. It means that there is something amiss.”
— Felix Jaegar, Poet

During my last campaign in the Free City of Marienburg we began to learn about law and order. In the opening sequence of battles we had two agencies with jurisdiction. These were two very different warbands whose agenda was to fight crime on the canals! A patrol of officers from the City Watch armed mainly with clubs and my Moon Guardians from Elftown. In the first of our annual multi-player extravaganzas crime did not pay. These battles tend to get messy with so much being at stake. Long after the sun had set the law enforcers were the last men (and sea elves) left standing.

My elf rangers were outperformed by the watch patrol. The Watch made arrests where as my elf guardians made none. This had something to do with an unsuccessful policing strategy; shoot first, ask questions later! I learned some hard lessons in those stages of the campaign when trying to engage tougher opponents in hand-to-hand combat with my sea rangers and continued to do so.

Guidelines for fighting crime were being written on the job. Some players have a problem with new rules being invented on the spot. Retrospective ‘nerfing’ is something that (some of) your friends are capable of swallowing in a narrative campaign, especially when it improves the story. When we began the adventure it was made very clear that it was a pilot run. I knew what I was getting myself into. Stakes were raised. Options got tinkered with. Fall out occurred. Contributors kissed and made up. Gameplay has evolved.

Now we have a rounded set of guidelines for crimefighting in a narrative campaign set in a city like Marienburg, Mordheim or wherever you prefer to call home. Please note that while the objectives of this plot may seem clear enough, it’s more difficult to uphold the principals of civil liberty and justice for all than you might think! Don’t be surprised when in the course of your investigations the leader of your patrol winds up in more dire straits than Axel Foley and Samuel Vimes put together.

Plot – Guarding the Peace

Models that can or cannot be placed under arrest are evenly defined in the officer’s guide accompanying the objectives. The main topics have been outlined here. I didn’t wish for this to be literal, so not every rule and situation has been defined. It’s not ambiguous either, yet it’s important that there is a little scope for freedom of interpretation. Remember this is a narrative campaign!

Most models can be placed under arrest. The question a player needs to ask themselves is not “Can I arrest them?” but “Should I arrest them?”

The only arrests which convert into campaign points are those made on these known felons, or models found to be committing a felony, such as arson, breaking & entering, or carrying fell cargo; drugs such as crimson shade, tainted item such as a wyrdstone necklace, occult item such as a two-thousand year old vampire sleeping in a quilted coffin etc

Campaigns become a lot more interesting when some models cannot be arrested for special reasons. Some characters including diplomats and powerful crime leaders have immunity from law enforcers! Of course it would be pointless trying to arrest an ungor beastman or a forest goblin. These savage creatures from the Warhammer World should always be slain to put an end to their destructive mischief.

“Goblins! Goblins! I caught that one in the stable, trying to set a fire. Waste of good horse meat. Maw curse them all.”
— Grog, Ogre Bodyguard

The warband objectives for watch patrols and other warbands who can follow this plot require the models in your chosen constabulary to work as a team. It is up to the player where they wish to play their role out as righteous lawmen, dirty coppers or a mixture with some good cop bad cop interactions!

Commonly law enforcers fulfil the role of heroes in stories. Phil Coulson currently leads his hand-picked team on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at Directory Fury’s behest. Flashing their badge of office in the Marvel Universe spells the opposite reaction to brandishing a badge in Sherwood! Brigands like Robin Hood’s merry men play the role of good guys leaving the Sheriffs men to be painted as villains.

Crime fighters from popular stories operate solo or work only with a partner. True detective or vigilante agent, whether your inspiration comes from Jack Bauer, Alex ‘Robocop’ Murphy, ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan, John McLane or Bruce Wayne the end of campaign objective remains the same. Take the leader of that criminal enterprise into custody. Once you get the bracelets on the kingpin in your campaign then they are going to face justice!

Speaking of specialists, I do have some new Hired Swords and Dramatis Personae in mind for the Marienburg setting. One of the main characters in any Marienburg adventure is Sam Warble the halfling detective.

My earlier mention here of the halfing private-eye fondly recalls discovering his character in the early days of Warhammer literature. My purchases back then were of 2nd edition anthologies from my local Games Workshop store.

Some readers will probably recall the Konrad saga, most the tales of Felix Jaegar and his companion. Not so many Buttermere 'Sam' Warble. But he was in Marienburg and (until Gotrek slew an incarnation of Stromfels!) they were not. Hence Sam pops up during MiM campaigns.

Sam Warble, Halfling Detective conversion painted by Werekin

There are 6 more plots to come. The ones that provide healthy competition and fulfilling interactions with your law enforcement patrols will be next to surface. These involve webs of intrigue spun by corrupt officials representing the Ten Great Merchant Families and secret deals being pursued by crime syndicates affiliated with the League of Gentlemen Entrepreneurs.
I have plans to include a special scenario in the Marienburg campaign for prison breaks at Hangman’s Square. The purpose of this is to create game situations where warbands can release any felons previously placed under arrest.

Lastly I’d like to thank the boys & geek-girl who play Mordheim with me for their inspirational pursuit of gaming and the guys on the Boring Mordheim Forum whose devotion to the hobby and support of this project, especially Rationale Lemming who contributed valuable feedback in the course of this criminal investigation!

Underworld dreams

Posted by  | Tuesday, April 15, 2014  at 1:14 AM  

Heroes thrive off dangerous pursuits – Sold to the pits, held captive by a rival gang, or an illegal drug addiction. The underbelly of the city is where pleasure houses, drug parlours and baiting pits can be found. This is where hedonistic warriors will be able to entertain their darkest desires in godforsaken dens of vice and misery. It is said that more people die every year around the wharfs than on all the glorious battlefields of the Empire! Here is an exhaustive tour of Marienburg's renowned waterfront hostelries and most notorious havens of ill repute.

During the Trading phase of the post battle sequence Heroes may attempt enter one of the taverns, casinos, drug dens and bordellos of Marienburg instead of searching for a rare item.

The following chapters expand post battle sequence options in the Trading phase:

Download - Infamous Haunts (PDF, ca. 1.5 MB)
Download - Marketplace (PDF, ca. 0.8 MB)
Download - Unknowable Cargo (PDF, ca. 0.5 MB)

Mutiny in Marienburg is a narrative campaign for Mordheim. A lot of the flavour for the setting is pulled from tomes published for Warhammer Roleplay. Finely quilled novels from Black Library add layers of detail to existing source material. Compiling as many flavourful notes from as many stories as possible I've been building a pattern of activities. Infamous Haunts contains 14 locations in Marienburg's underworld. The risks are steep. The rewards are great. Players whose warriors pay the underworld a visit are sure to have a story to tell. This could be just the twist in your campaign you were looking for! Here is where Heroes from your warbands may dare to visit in the the post battle sequence instead of pursuing traditional activities.

In your campaigns some players will fuss over gathering up the best equipment, others may realise that visiting an Alchemist to tap into the power of wyrdstone is the best course of action to take. What if there were other options available? Would your Witch Hunter search for a Holy Relic or would he visit the Sanitarium? Would your Necromancer search for a Lucky Charm or cajole a Dreg into visiting the Graveyard with him?

Before I realised what I had on my hands I was working on a compilation article called 'Marketplace'. My intention was (and still is!) to adapt the best material from the Encampments articles published in Town Cryer. This is partly what led me into the seediest corners of the city. Sometimes the outcomes will introduce new rules where guidelines need to be followed. There might be penalties to pay. Rewards vary sometimes revealing a secret location from the Marienburg campaign or a special character such as Trancas Quendalmanlïye at the Casino in Elftown.

On my desktop I still have another document being bashed into shape by referring to my campaign notes plus those old Town Cryer magazines. I have elaborated considerably. Anything that develops a wild campaign story. Anything that encourages modelling opportunities. If it inspires, it's being tied in! For instance that building with the green roof above Three of a Kind casino, if you recognise it, is being well represented. Marketplace will offer safer options to players than visiting the city's underbelly. This should pose further tactical choices in campaigns. Play it safe by visiting the Cartographer or take a chance by visiting one of the locations beyond Three Penny Bridge.

Of course not all warbands will benefit from these options. Enemies of mankind, elfkind, dawi or halfling folk are not permitted entry to legendary parlours of ill repute such as Golden Lotus drug den or Molly's knocking shop. As compensation for this I have a more concise set of (two) locations where the likes of greenskins, beastkin and vermin may think about heading to chill out after the battle. These will work on a completely different set of (very basic) principals to any of the other charts normally used in campaigns. Of course such primitive creatures could be too preoccupied with their wyrdstone trinkets and ceremonies of sacrifice to think about setting off in the right direction!

Face justice

Posted by  | Wednesday, February 26, 2014  at 10:13 AM  

Five years ago I was washed up on Fisherman's Steps in Marienburg, after my companion Herr Templin & I completed the arduous though rewarding task of envisioning the original theatrical stage production Border Town Burning. After our journey I began describing concepts and themes to him based on my ideas for what could dare follow such an epic project! My confidant was curious. I had a lot of work to put in before I could claim to have something comparable to what my conspirator already had in his hands when I first discovered him skulking around in the Cathayan Borderlands!

My name is Ruprecht Drinkwater, heretic playwright, street performer and suspected were-creature and this maritime manifest was to be my sentence.

Cianty: Every Mordheim setting should convey a unique feel, not only atmospherically but also ruleswise. This is often attributed to a different environment represented by the terrain and weather rules. The Empire in Flames supplement introduced the open plains of the Empire, filled with forest sections and small village dwellings and fields. In Border Town Burning we had a similar environment, a rather open gaming board with forest sections. Ruleswise EiF introduced wagons and carts and this theme was expanded on in BTB with the Merchant Caravan warband and the feel of journeying (also represented in the objectives). Now we are back in the Old World, again, expanding and continuing the previously introduced concepts and ideas. So what is the overall feel and theme of Marienburg? Have a guess...

Werekin: On the surface Mutiny in Marienburg is all about piracy. The supplement certainly is about fulfilling smuggling missions! More than pirates, it is about devotion to fighting crime & committing crime in a port-city metropolis.

An account of the city's political struggle between it's powerful guild rivals.
A Mutiny in Marienburg
Composed by criminal mastermind Rev Larny

A campaign in a commercial port must capitalise on expanding the scope for trade deals. The fundamentals require me to broaden player's perception of currency beyond treasures/wyrdstone shards, gold crowns and what equipment or contraband items (poisons, drugs, tainted items & Chaos artefacts) they can spend it on. Corpses, stragglers (NPC models) and captured models offer alternative revenue streams. Mordheim warbands or Marienburg gangs ability to control unique locations in the campaign and tap into the special uses of these encampments. Beyond paying ransoms and meeting usual bargains, bribery becomes another serious consideration.

Malign forces will compete to commit the most horrific acts. Constabularies naturally combat these destructive threats first if they can, depending on whose agency has jurisdiction! Other factions will be tempted to commit less harmful felonious activity for ill-gotten gains only to become brigands themselves.

"We have ways of making you talk..."
The way that Witch Hunters will deal with a suspected heretic is quite different to how the City Watch handles matters. Campaign objectives and scenario rules see to that nicely. For instance a watch patrol may consider interrogating a suspect while a witch hunters warband will torture the suspect!

New objective
Plot - Drowning the Witch
Witch Hunters, Sisters of Sigmar and Mercenaries hiring a holy Warrior-Priest of Sigmar may follow this plot.

Cianty: Stu has been wanting to introduce trade to Mordheim for a long time now. Based on the concept of the Merchant Caravan, he wanted to see more trading, bargaining and fencing. Now I will leave it to him to talk further about this concept and the mechanics. What I want to do here is describe a mechanic somewhat independent of the trading itself, yet blending in with it perfectly. I think this is a great way to create a coherent feeling: providing numerous rules that are independent of each other, but contribute to the same greater goal.

My little part I am talking about here is 'bounty hunting'. For whatever disgusting reason I have always felt attached to this concept (in wargaming, that is!). I guess it is because I enjoy the social interaction between the players that goes far beyond the usual mutual head-bashing.

In Mordheim we already have the Captured result on the Heroes' Serious Injury chart. Capturing people and selling them back is a kind of trading, yet it is nicely independent as it can be done without using any advanced trading rules, but at the same time it can be covered by those rules as well.

Werekin: I will never forget the Bounty Hunter that Eliazar hired in when his Reikland River Brigands swept through during the 2nd series of our campaign! Bounty Hunters remain one of my firm favourites and definitely the number one most overlooked Hired Sword. They fight for any side when the price is right and they allow all kinds of interesting interactions with different warband objectives! Despite the motives of your gang, the Bounty Hunter proves one of the most flexible sell-swords. Whether a player leads a patrol of Watchmen trying to bring down a dangerous outlaw, or a criminal syndicate organising an abduction of innocent milkmaids the Bounty Hunter will always help to take the prize! He can assist in placing suspected felons under arrest, or simply aid in snatching victims off the docks!

"The punishment has to fit the crime..."
Rules for placing warriors under arrest appear under Scenario 9: Dead Freight. Also included are details for what happens to models after arrests have bee made. The outcomes are decided using the Conviction Chart which I created to encourage some entertaining situations between crime-fighters and convicts!

Cianty: I have always greatly enjoyed Nick Kyme's 'Fortune Hunters' article in issue 13 of the Town Cryer magazine. One of the cool Hired Swords presented therein is the Bounty Hunter. This guy had to have a triumphant comeback in Marienburg. His ability to capture opposing Heroes is a great mechanic to push the captives in the game. Additional rules for Captives? All models caught by the Bounty Hunter Hired Sword are brought to a Marienburg Prison (or a version of it). The Prison is a building. (Stu: Should models be granted access to) the Prison by playing a certain scenario?

Werekin: Yes, why not. Henceforth in Marienburg, buildings and fortifications plus other special locations are being referred to as encampments. These can be contested by playing scenarios designed to fit the purpose. There are two in the Rules section (Scenario 5: Stockade & Scenario 10: The Sting). As a consequence of playing a scenario that contests an encampment, it could be possible for a player's warband to free a friendly model that has already been captured or placed under arrest.

When a player holds an encampment, another player may take the opportunity to contest it. Motives may vary depending on the value of a location to each side. The outcome can be decided according to scenario guidelines or the players can agree this amongst themselves based on what is currently at stake in their campaign story.

e.g. Witch Hunters have established a Torture Chamber in the city. Cult of the Possessed decide to contest the encampment. The players fight a scenario and against all odds the followers of Chaos win! As the Torture Chamber is only of use to the torturous Sigmarites, the Possessed cultists raze the structure freeing any captured models in the process. When the Witch Hunters return to their encampment they find that it must be restored before being used again.

The restoration would be achieved in accordance with the guidelines for restoring encampments as described in the Epic Campaign Rules article, based on rules that first appeared in the Border Town Burning supplement.

Disclaimer - This blog post features some content originally composed by the heretic scribes Chris Templin & Stu Cresswell five years ago! Join us in celebrating the anniversary of Border Town Burning.

Knowledge stays forever

Posted by  | Sunday, January 19, 2014  at 10:12 PM  

Almost two years ago, with the knowledge that witch hunters could be tracing my movements, I shared some insight into some favourite forbidden texts. It was my intention to lend additional detail to literary sources of inspiration for the Marienburg setting for Mordheim campaigns.

Mysterious reasons seemingly sidetracked me from continuing my recommendations for bedtime reading! Real life random happenings interrupted my research last year meaning all relating tabletop exploits are on hiatus. After seven years in the same ground floor hideout, cascading relationship circumstances led to inevitable upheaval. My warbands have migrated a few times duting the past six months! Series 4 of the Mutiny campaign fun I was running is now on hold until the dust settles. My miniatures are cased up, my modular terrain boards garaged at the family ranch, my books... (oh my precious library!!) was boxed, then unboxed, then (hastily) bagged up! When the Sigmarite Orders do finally catch up with me I will be well practised in fleeing from combat.

Whatever happens next in the Marienburg odyssey is currently unmapped. I was reminded by a fellow conspirator to revisit my collection of tomes this afternoon. In turn prompting me to return here. The hedge wizard in question was lamenting the rising prices of books now out of print, in particular the only official Mordheim campaign book, Empire In Flames. Whilst it is available online as a PDF there are many who prefer an original hard copy for inspiration whether standing over a tabletop street skirmish or while sitting at the modelling station with a wet brush in hand.

Excuses aside my 'go to' source material, as a Mordheim campaign facilitator, is split between Black Library novels and Warhammer Roleplay publications. The latter has thinned in the advent of Fantasy Flight Games hijacking the system from Green Ronin. Green Ronin through Black Industries picked up the mantle from Hogshead Publishing. Black Library fantasy fiction is still going great guns in contrast to the lack of credible roleplay supplements seeing print. Allow me to share the best references for Marienburg adventure.

6 story arcs bearing importance to Marienburg acting as best references for MiM:

A Murder in Marienburg & A Massacre in Marienburg by David Bishop
Titular inspiration for the campaign came courtesy of a Black Library author who dedicated two full novels to the City of Islands and Bridges. The sequenced stories are awe inspiring at times despite some reviewers critical opinion that their telling suffers from being lacklustre. Big racketeers from the Marienburg roleplay books by Hogshead feature in the tale. Reading these novels was of as much pleasure to me as it was a research exercise. The author details some marvellous new personalities from the Marienburg Watch constabularies of his own devising. Most importantly to me, there are sea elves in it! Both novels are now out of print. Herr Bishop has since taken up a better offer in scriptwriting television shows by accounts.

Marks Of Chaos by James Wallis
Available since 2010 on 'Print On Demand' service from Black Library, it took me a while to catch up on reading this twin-novel package. Not to be confused with another title called Mark of Chaos. This reissue combines Mark of Heresy & Mark of Damnation. Although the majority of the telling is not set in Marienburg the storytelling is excellent. There is a ton of intrigue. Sheer quality of this release is not a surprise considering the legacy James Wallis left at Hogshead Publishing.

Knight of the Blazing Sun, Dead Calm from Hammer & Bolter issue #13, Stromfel’s Teeth from Hammer & Bolter issue #17, Lords of the Marsh from Hammer & Bolter issue #20 Dead Man’s Party from Hammer & Bolter issue #21 by Joshua Reynolds
Remarkable new Warhammer storyteller Josh Reynolds made his first mark with a novel set around a mysterious island off the coast of Marienburg. Good man I say! The novel was followed up with a series of 4 short stories based in the city-port. These were scarily familiar to me upon reading them because the protagonists all sit in line with factions from the Marienburg campaign system that I've been developing. Cultists of Stromfels and the constabularies are most significant. The author introduces the Marsh-Watch and not afraid to use the 'F word' he devotes more than a few pages to those clawing monsters of mythic nostalgia. I urge anyone who is spending time in Marienburg to download these editions of Hammer & Bolter from the Black Library web site simply to read these glorious adventures.

More about the adventures of Erkhardt Dubnitz, Templar of Manann here!

The Tilean Rat (from Wolf Riders or The Laughter of the Dark Gods) & The Man Who Stabbed Luther van Groot (from Tales of the Old World) by Sandy Mitchell
Legendary Black Library author Sandy invented the diminutive detective Sam Warble. I remember reading the first tale of the halfling sleuth aeons ago when Games Workshop first began publishing fantasy fiction. Amongst my collection of short story anthologies is the bumper release containing his second yarn following Sam's casework. Both set in Marienburg, both are brilliant told tales.

Death on the Reik Trilogy by Sandy Mitchell
Sandy was tasked with writing a series of novels to tie in with the 2nd edition release of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. This series was never released in omnibus format. It is an unusual read as Warhammer novels go. The main characters eventually make their way to Marienburg. They arrive in the second book. When they do it's well worth the wait. Sam Warble makes a cameo. The witch hunters are never far behind.

Elfslayer & Slayer of the Storm God (Audio-book/short story) by Nathan Long
Gotrek & Felix have travelled the length and breadth of the Warhammer World. Bill King took them to Albion, Kislev, even the Chaos Wastes! It was during Nathan Long's tenure that the infamous duo arrived in Marienburg. The short story released as an audio CD is a regal way to enjoy their escapades from a different perspective. It's since been reissued in a compilation of short stories, Hammer & Bolter I think. I haven't picked up the Fourth Omnibus yet, having bought the books separately upon release, but hopefully they've included Gotrek's fight against a horrific manifestation of the Shark God, Stromfels!

6 best Warhammer source books used for referencing epic campaigns:

Marienburg: Sold Down The River
This is the god book! A first edition release for Warhammer Roleplay through Hogshead Publishing, devised by Anthony Ragan As far as this campaign is concerned, without this roleplay source book, I would have found it difficult to get things off the ground. It contains the Great Map, drawn by Ralph Horsely and so much more.

The Dying of the Light
A series of scenarios set in and around the city. Mostly set in the surrounding Wasteland region, this is the ideal resource for understanding everything that happens directly outside of the city walls. A boon is that it contains a scenario written by Sandy Mitchell. He signed my copy at Black Library Live a few years ago! A superb resource for amphibian fans. It includes the earliest published example of a Fimir warband.

The Thousand Thrones
At the beginning of this voluminous tome of adventure, the scenarios explore Dead Canal slum district followed by the Cursed Marsh outside of Marienburg. A scarily sumptuous bonus for worshipers of Stromfels and his mutated seafaring followers of Chaos.

Career Compendium
Combines all of the career paths and adventure hooks from a multitude of other 2nd edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay publications. A grandiose tome for sourcing yourself hired swords capable of skulduggery! Also contains a moving story about Strigany river pirates.

Tome of Salvation
Arguably the jewel in the crown among all source books for Warhammer. This tome was the inspiration form my article Miracle Workers. I was reading this in an airport once and got so many funny looks from commuters!

Tome of Corruption
The companion release for Tome of Salvation. The inspiration for Corrupted Characters.

Sandy Mitchell left Marks of Chaos on my copy of 'Dying of the Light' at Black Library Live