A "BasementHammer" approach to rules fixes, core scenario options and expanding the game, both for Warhammer Fantasy and Mordheim.
The Objective: enrich the Core Rules with more narrative and story, and add more options for even richer games.

This is our game, and we should strive to make it as good as we can.
See the "About" page for more details.


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Age of Sigmar narrative event: The Flamescar Vaults

So... in the past year I ran TWO Age of Sigmar Narrative events at Alpha Omega Hobby, our local shop in the Boston area, that I had yet to share here.

The first one was last June: a small-squads dungeon crawl using the Forbidden Power and Firestorm rules. Particularly, it was amazing to see how a little bit of hobbying, even on a low budget, can go a long way.

I finally finished polishing up the players pack for the event, and the gaming aids I used to run it, so I can finally share them here.

I had in mind to run a small-squads type of event for Age of Sigmar for a while, that would be bigger than Skirmish, but still explored all the nooks and crannies of the scenery and got players down to fulfill narrative missions on the table.
I called it Gangs of Hammerhal, and cooked up a format on how to build your army with these restrictions.

The goals with this format were:
- To promote faster games, because you have less units in the table;
- To need less space on the table for models so that scenery can be denser and players can interact with it more;
- To emphasize the heroics of small units of elite models and Heroes;
- To promote use of "veteran" upgrades from battle to battle, such as Path to Glory and Regiments of Renown (now featured in Generals Handbook 2019!).

With the release of Forbidden Power, and the storyline of exploring forgotten dungeons full of traps and treasure, I knew I had found the right time to run this.
I put my Terraclips and other dungeon terrain at our local shop to work.

The story:
The event placed players as one of the many groups of mercenaries, treasure-hunters and secret operatives working out of the larger Hammerhal area in Aqshy. The Commander of each of these groups had already grabbed one of the greater relics from the Stormvaults: an Awakened Artefact.
They all set out to find the entrance to the Cloister of Ashes, a Grand Stormvault deep beneath Hammerhal. Given that the city's watch had tried to seal all entrances to the vault within its perimeters, the warbands were invested in finding an alternative route. This is what led them to investigate the smaller Vaults in the Flamescar Plateau.

The setting:
The Flamescar Plateau was the setting of the Firestorm map campaign, and I had always wanted to make more use of all its rules and backstory. In particular how the ancient Agloraxi mages built giant Golems at their facility, to help forge arcane machinery from the heat of a realmstone elemental. The lore of the Dread Solstice campaign even mentioned a Chronomantic magic cannon being built within the Infinity Gears, the arcane computer the size of a city found north of the plateau. I definitely had to put something like this on the table at some point!

So I got to work and did some budget hobbying, to set up the Infinity Gears, the Caverns of Fulminax, the Magebane Dungeons, and other locations featured in the Firestorm campaign map.
The Caverns of Fulminax table featured an actual realmstone elemental (a large magma head!) whose rage could blow up your models if they were close enough.
This table of red cliffs and wooden bridges was already owned by our shop, but nobody used it because it's not a conventional table size!! I decided to put to good use.
The Fulminax head is a halloween rubber mask, that I painted with a few washes of orange in recesses, and balloon within it for volume.. The giant chains are more Halloween decorations. 

The Infinity Gears table had actual giant gears that interfered with the flow of time, and was plagued by wandering remnants of The Red Mist that plagued Aqshy during the Time of Tribulations.
The walls on this table are part of a 40k/necromunda/spaceHulk modular system. I added up the paper board included in one of the old AoS starter sets, which includes the Arcanabulum gears (very suitable for the Infinity Gears), as well as several sets of painted gears. These were a mix of metal gears (probably from bikes), large wooden gears and a few mini metal geary bits that are used for hobbying and steampunk jewelry.

At the Titanworks, warbands had to collect parts for a Golem and build it (which they then needed to use, to forge a key at the Forge of the Fulminax!).
I used a Full Metal Alchemist model to represent the Agloraxian Titan, which I wanted to do for ages! It is even made up of many pieces, so players would have to collect them across the table and assemble. But surely one could use a 40K titan or other giant robot as an arcane Golem for this purpose.

How it worked:
Warbands were introduced to "quests", or potential leads to where they might find the entrance, and volunteered for each one, determining where they played and against whom. They had to hunt down an escapee from the Vaults and make him talk, find lost documents or disable a Penumbral Engine (Sigmar's obfuscation machines that kept the Vaults hidden for centuries).

For the Magebane Dungeons, I used the modular Terraclips kits I own, to set up a whole 4'x4' table worth of dungeons, including small little rooms, staircases columns and arches.

To make the Lake of Shackled Spirits, I just used a water mat and placed several sets of tall ruins and scattered large alien vegetation, to represent the drained lake bed. In the center, I placed a Penumbral Engine, ready to be disabled so the players could reveal mysteries in other tables and the path to the next table (to the victorious player of this table).

Placing Endless Spells loose on the table, as neutral hazards, was the best idea ever. Players did not have to bring them, and no game is the same with the kind of chaos these things introduce.

Throughout the missions, models would have to evade traps and could find treasure chests to open. These chests either contained a relic they could give to a Hero or unit champion, or sealed magic that could improve their Awakened Artefact by one level.

The event consistent of 3 battles, where the result of each determined where they would fight next, and what their mission would be.
After each battle, their Awakened Artefact would improve by one level, and they could apply to a single unit either an upgrade from their allegiance's Path to Glory tables or from the Regiments of Renown tables.

In one of the tables, there was even an ancient daemonic entity, imprisoned in one of the Vaults. It was hidden until the Penumbral Engine was destroyed, and then enticed the nearest warband to free them in return for their help.
The player agreed, and the creature, after eating a few warriors out of hunger, teleported away laughing...for the time being.
That is a MacFarlane toys model: they are highly detailed and relatively cheap for their quality!

After a series of battles where the entrance to the Grand Vault was unlocked, and other warbands followed through a series of hidden realmgates, warbands finally reached one of the grand chambers, holding a powerful Artefact. And chains holding something else...

A 3-way battle ensued, with the followers of Chaos allying together, and deciding to besiege the altar holding the Blade of Fulmination. But alas, they lacked the arcane key to release it: such a key had been forged by the forces of Order at the Caverns of Fulminax.

Instead, the destroyers decided to focus on the gigantic eldritch chain, convinced it must be leashing some dreadful monster hidden in the depths.

Out of nowhere, the entity that was previously imprisoned makes an appearance, fulfilling indeed its part of the bargain with the player that agreed to it, and proceeds to demolish the Stormcast Eternal force.

The monster emerges! The gargantuan creature chained in the Cloister is the terrifying Charonhydra: a godbeast-spawn from an age gone by.
Such a beast, if let loose, would surely cause untold destruction to the city above. The chaos worshipers had indeed found their mark, and proceed to disenchant and destroy the chains that bind it.
Yes my friends, that's right: those are rubber dinosaur hand puppets, bought off the internet. Amazing detail, super bargain price. Toys are always your friend when putting together large monsters or structures on a budget. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice a bit of texture detail, other times not at all!!

The only thing that can stop this monstrosity now is unlocking the Blade of Fulmination, and using it to slay the gigantic heads... The protectors have gotten hold of the key to unlock the Blade... but the servants of the Slaan know the dangers involved in wielding the cursed blade...

So they make the fateful decision to lock away the key, so nobody could ever use the blade again. The skink priest teleports away from the fray, key in hand. Sealing the fate of this battle.

With no one to stop them on time, the destroyers successfully shatter the chains, and the Charonhydra escapes its prison in the Cloister.

At the eleventh hour... the Coven Sorceress that had successfully made a pact with the trapped entity also shadow-walks across the chamber, and catches the Skink priest from behind.
Fade to black, and the fate of the Key to the Blade of Fulmination falls into the hands of plotting schemers...

Hope you enjoyed, and this inspires others to make their own local narrative events.

I will be sharing the other event I ran, The Lavafall Riots, here very soon.

There are plenty of little story hooks in the battletome books and campaign books: take one, find a place in the map for it, and flesh it out for your event. GW leaves them deliberately vague for a reason! :D

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