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.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Age of Sigmar Narrative Event: The Lavafall Riots

Here I have an overview of the Narrative Event for Age of Sigmar I ran a year ago, at Alpha Omega Hobby (in the Boston US area). It was set in Hammerhal and featuring urban combat and small squads.


This event is a continuation of the storyline started in the event I ran the previous year, The Flamescar Vaults, where I used the Forbidden Power rules to take players through a dungeon crawl.
I summarized that event for the new players with this comic strip:



The Lavafall Riots event was played both with Age of Sigmar and Warcry.
Rules Pack (click here).

Age of Sigmar games used the "Gangs of Hammerhal" list-building format, which consists of warbands of small units, that can gain Regiment of Renown abilities each game.
Warcry games used the Trial of Champions mode, Monster capture and my version of Free Cities Mercenary warband (before the official one was released in White Dwarf! aha :P )

Both games types used "Gold Coins" as a form of reward and currency, to buy Lesser Artefacts (cards adapted by me), Treachery Cards (AoS cards by Jeff Egan & Eric "Stonemonk", Warcry cards by me), hire Mercenaries, or just to bribe each other! 

The Lavafall Riots were caused by the devastation of the escaped Charonhydra monster, from the depths of the Cloister of Ashes Grand Stormvault. The colossal monster demolished the district, before being driven off of Hammerhal into the Crescent Sea.
And... lots of monsters and endless spells spilled out of the ground into the streets.




I had 12 players attending (5 for AoS and 7 for Warcry), and I set up three 4'x4' Age of Sigmar tables, and four Warcry-size tables. 

I made a few Hammerhal-themed building pieces for the event, as well as a number of set dressing props such as banners, posters on the building walls and a smattering of urban scatter terrain like barrels and crates. Most of the rest was judicious application and set up of the terrain at our shop, which is time consuming but extremely rewarding to see and play in.

Most of the tables represented the ruined parts of the Lava fall district where the Charonhydra and wild spells and monsters had been trampling on.

I even managed to use two ships to make a table for the Adramar Rift docks: the main dockyard in Hammerhal Aqsha, described in WarhammerQuest's Cinderfall district. Lavafall district itself is just across a bridge from Cinderfall.

For Warcry, I knew I had to put my Terraclips to use, so I made a sewer table and a stormvault table, full of terrain elevations and bridges. I also had a street level table and a ruined chapel table.

Each AoS table also had a couple units of Revolutionaries: the disgruntled residents of Lavafall district, barricaded against the monsters, spells and the purging forces of Hammerhal's peacekeepers.

Revolutionaries used the same rules as the free Militia unit that each player could bring together with their warband, for this event (see above).



We played 3 rounds of games during the course of the day, with the Warcry players having an extended period after each battle to allocate their Coin/Glory and negotiate bribery and alliances with each other. Due to uneven number of players, in each round one of the games was a 3 way using Triumph and Treachery.

 There was no shortage of Gold Coins passed between folks, in setting up nasty ambush 3way battles in Warcry! Coin could also be passed between Warcry and AoS players of the same Team, to share resources, and maybe grab that extra Treachery card.


One thing became very clear was that 3-way games for AoS can be very... slow. Triumph or Treachery is great and full of interesting tactics and emotions it adds to the game, but taking 3 separate turns per round takes a long time... We found ourselves that the 3-way game was always the one who took longest to finish. For an event that needs to run 3 separate games in a day, it is a bit too long.

This did not happen with the Warcry games: they were not only faster but due to alternating activations all 3 players were constantly engaged during every turn.

A solution for 3way AoS games: alternating phases.
Something I have experimented later with our local group, in 3 player games, is to roll Priority roll for EVERY phase. Each player rolls at the beginning of every phase, and each player resolves all their actions for that phase before moving onto the next phase. In addition, for the purpose of game balance with other abilities, you should run TWO Combat Phases, one after the other.



 Players in full Age of Sigmar games were tasked with conquering as much territory as possible, by taking over the large buildings to win games. Secondary objectives changed depending who the warband was figthing for.

All players gained extra coin by getting rid of endless spells and monsters, as well as fulfilling Hidden Agendas. The AoS agendas were very similar to those released in the General's Handbook 2019, while the Warcry ones were adapted to be more specific to this event.

Peacekeepers were also paid for slaying units of Revolutionaries (no one is risking any Chaos contamination here!).
Rebels could add any Revolutionaries unit they came across to their army.
Raiders could tame over any wild monsters they managed to take down and control by the end of the battle.


The event ended with the Rebels and the Peacekeeper AoS warbands sniffing out what was influencing the riots and drawing in the Raiders: some sort of strange ritual.

All 5 AoS players were brought to the same table to face off.

The Raiders' forces, mostly composed of Chaos followers, were hunkering down in a ruined church, and by then had captured several monsters to aid their cause. Above them, providing artillery support, were the shifty skaven and their hammerhalian insurance fraud allies (who provided an airship).

Meanwhile, the Warcry gangs were face to face with the other leyline keystones that were powering the ritual (the big green glowy obelisks). The Raiders' players were informed of their role in the ritual, but the rest of the players had no idea what they were.


The Rebels and Peaceepers players finally decided to ally, even the Ossiarch Bonereapers player lend them their help, and tried to break through the monsters and the barricades of the church.

On the Warcry tables, the warbands were unable (or unwilling) to destroy the keystones, so the ritual in the main table kept going uniterupted. It all seemed to be going smoothly for the Chaos followers, holding back the rest of the Hammerhal forces...

Until the skaven warband, deciding that they had not been paid enough warpstone and the Chaos warbands were not wiling to part w any coin, pulls a "Burn it all down" moment.
Using the large amount of coin he had amassed, the skaven player asked for an "ad hoc" purchase: to arm all his units with kamikaze bombs and send them all overboard. I agreed... and the skaven player sent all his units plummeting towards the main keystone on the ritual circle.

The ritual failed... and so did the airship's engines, and the large vessel crashed (off the table :P ). The player was nonetheless happy for this very skaven ending to his warband.
At this point the mastermind behind the riots revealed itself: one of the Coiled Ones, a patron greater daemon of the Splintered Fang and the entity released during the last Gangs of Hammerhal event.

While this powerful daemon (which was controlled by the Chaos players) was able to fight off the Hammerhalian forces, the destruction of the ritual site ruined its ability to leave that place. The daemon is tied to the Vaults underneath the city, and needed to be released by the ritual so it can move away and fulfill whatever plan it has.

After a fraught battle, the forces of Hammerhal and their Ossiarch allies decided their losses were unacceptable and retreated. The Coiled One was not defeated.... but was still bound to the vaults underneath Hammerhal.
On the Warcry tables, while the keystones remained intact, the Greenmoone Stevedores union managed to fight back the enemy gangs and retake Tenky Tim's Tako Stand. Tenky Tim was ecstatic.



The choices of the players caused a new alliance to emerge between the Chaos Raider players on both the Warcry and AoS sides, and the Coiled One hiding beneath Hammerhal. In the course of the event, the Peacekeepers were able to see that the Revolutionaries of Lavafall were not corrupted by Chaos, and what they needed was help! Who thought it a good idea to quarantine the whole place and leave these people to their fate? The Stormcast Eternals player told me his leader would make sure that this news would get to the Council of Hammerhal.

This finale inspired a short campaign of Soulbound RPG, played by me and other friends: a group of agents outside the Lavafall quarantine perimeter, tracking down the political manipulation that kept the area quarantined all the way to the Council of the city.

And, if the COVID-19 lockdown eases up anytime soon, the next event will feature the final showdown between the forces of Hammerhal and the corruption hiding in the Stormvault underneath.



- 3 AoS games, and 4-5 Warcry games, is the maximum you can fit on a one-day event (~10-11am to 8pm).

- Once again, the use of cards made it easy to keep track of bonuses and objectives players got. 

- For Warcry, a reference sheet for the Trial of Champions Narrative Campaign Mode proved invaluable and helped players do each thing step by step.

- Using simple objective control Battleplan victory conditions, with each objective being a building/square and deployment zones clearly marked on the table, made it easy to not need battleplan sheets (a trick I used in my last event as well).

- For single-day events, do not include too many special rules, especially OPTIONAL ones that involve making decisions. The hiring of special Mercenaries happened very little, as players were already dealing with a lot to do, and with the exception of Peacekeepers not many of the others had lots of ways to make Coin.
Longer events (2-4 days) are better for multiple special rules (which can be introduced slowly), and especially resource management.

- Exchange of Coin and roleplay worked better with Warcry, as more emphasis was put on finishing objectives and fighting battles quickly, so players could have a bit more time to break for post-game upgrades and banter.

- For this kind of team-based battle events, keeping some form of scoreboard can help trigger more discussions and engagement from players. In this case, as they did not know how far ahead their opponents were, they might have felt a bit more lost.

- Running Warcry with AoS in parallel is challenging, but not impossible. But requires definitely preparation in how the two game modes are going to interact through the day: I was not able to connects all the threads as the GM as much as I wanted. Running this event with another GM would have helped a lot more. I will definitely either keep some parts simpler next time, or scale back either the Warcry of AoS portion.

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