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!

3 comments:

Alexander said...

Good to see Sam up and about, and up to no good with that bottle I'm sure. Now I'm waiting (im)patiently for the Fimir Conspiracy and the Great Caper

João Sousa said...

Ha ha! Short man complex! Hence the pile of rocky steps he's on. :)
Lovely conversion and great paintob, by the way. The wizard's bottle adds lots of character to the little fellow.
I like some of the references in the article, too. And that glorious illustration of the conspicuous halfling!

Benjamin Neale said...

The miniature of Sam Warble is great. I think it is excellent how you are incorporating characters from the Warhammer fiction that exists for Marienburg as DPs in MiM. I have never read any Warhammer fiction but now I really, really want to get my hands on those novels that you refer to. :-D

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