Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Shattered Realm- The Campaign System!

Here it is; the last piece of the SR puzzle- the Campaign rules!

As always, this is still an early draft copy; but it should give you a very good idea of where I'm going with it- if you ever give it a try then please let me know what you think!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tcpguekozvmzdlx/SR%20Campaigns%20Doc.%20V.2.3.%20COPY.odt?dl=0

You will also find blank Roster sheets and optional Character Cards at the end of the document- the Cards are something I'm also considering making as a resource for players of Dracula's America in the near future, as I've heard some folks say it can get a little 'token-heavy' for their tastes... Using these Cards will allow you to keep table-clutter to a minimum!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

...And Now For Something Completely Different.

Bit of a non-gaming-related Post, but I went for a wander early yesterday morning on one of my favourite walks- going on long walks by myself in such beautiful landscapes really fires up my imagination and just generally refreshes me; so I thought I'd post a few pictures up here (if only to prove that I actually do have other interests besides pushing toy soldiers around a table-top!)...


*Walking through the woods, well before first light.



*Leaving the woods and heading further up into the hills, the sunlight is just starting to creep across the sky...




*Following the track over the tops, you come across a trail of cairns and get some incredible views over towards Pen-Y-Ghent!




*At this point, the sky lights up!



*Walking the cliffs above the old whetstone mine, following the cairns towards the village of Austwick.

Eat your heart out, Middle Earth!



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Fog in the Barrowvales- a Solo Shattered Realm game!

Here's the report of a test game for Shattered Realm I played recently using the Solo rules!

The young Dwarven noble Ranhulf Finehair and his Party, in self-imposed exile from his Father's realm, is travelling South in the direction of Gharzulgrint. Passing over the mountains into Fellmoor, they cross the bleak uplands and eventually find themselves traversing a series of mist-shrouded valleys. The tiny hamlets and isolated Crofter's huts of Fellmoor become fewer and fewer as they head West, and an oppressive feeling hangs heavy on each Dwarf.
Soon, ancient burial mounds and stone monoliths begin to loom out of the fog on all sides, and not even the ever-present crows can be heard. An unnatural silence falls, and eerie whispers begin to echo all around as the Dwarves close ranks into a defensive formation.


The Party's scout, the self-proclaimed 'Handsome' Roldo, suddenly returns with a haunted expression on his face. He reports an especially large barrow dead ahead, topped by what seems to be a flickering green flame- even more disturbing, he speaks of ethereal figures drifting around the corpse-fire...
Ranhulf grimly determines that to tarry here would be foolish. A grim expression on his face, he orders his companions to steel themselves and keep marching- they can forge a path straight through the Barrowvales; but speed will be of the essence!

As the Dwarves trudge on through the gloom, the fog seems to thicken. Ahead, they can only make out an ethereal green glow that marks their destination. Weapons are drawn and readied, while torch and lantern-bearers move to the flanks to provide what illumination they can.
Hollow laughter rings out as the hazy outline of the barrow emerges from the mist ahead, and eerie figures begin to drift down towards the Dwarves with spectral claws outstretched!


With a bellowed oath, the impetuous Ranhulf leads his men from the front and hurls himself into combat with the first Wraith- but is dismayed to find his finely-crafted heirloom blade passing harmlessly through the undead creature's form!
Seeing his liege-lord in peril, 'Red' Gutrikk (a veteran of the Draugr-Wars in far-off Shieldmark) charges selflessly into combat with the creature- he has fought such ethereal undead before, and knows that timing is critical when facing a Wraith. Between the two Dwarves, they dispatch the foul entity easily- Ranhulf dealing the final blow as the Wraith's form briefly solidifies to strike at Gutrikk!
But there is no time for congratulations, as yet more Wraiths close in on our heroes. Meanwhile, atop the burial mound and lit by the green flames of the corpse-fire, the Lord of the Barrow surveys the interlopers and stretches forth a withered talon... Opposite him, the Ranger Agbert feels himself drawn towards the cloaked figure against his will. When he regains his senses, he is stood alone and cut-off from his comrades on one flank- yet the flickering torch in his hand gives him courage, even as yet another Wraith coalesces out of the mist behind him...


Meanwhile, the fighting in the centre is growing desperate- the Dwarves are skillful fighters compared to their undead foes, but many otherwise-lethal blows are having no effect on the cursed creatures.
To the dismay of the Party, Ranhulf himself suddenly falls with an anguished cry- the freezing claws of a Wraith sliding past armour and flesh as if they weren't there to rend his very spirit!


Standing over their lord's unconscious form, the rest of the Dwarves grimly fight on- determined to avenge their liege. Gutrikk takes command of the situation, and orchestrates a determined counter-attack. Slowly, inch by inch, they begin to push the Wraiths back up the side of the barrow towards the flame burning at the top. Even young Snorri gives a good account of himself, despite this being his first encounter with the fell undead!
 
Now the Dwarves have the measure of their opponents, and Wraiths begin to fall all around- yet for each one destroyed, another coalesces from out of the surrounding mists. Seeing these interlopers trespassing upon his sanctuary, the Barrow-Lord begins hissing fell incantations and bolts of pure shadow leap from his outstretched fingers to strike the Dwarves- yet they grimly endure this punishment, their eyes fixed upon their prize as they crest the barrow's summit and plunge into combat. Roldo takes advantage of the chaos and kicks dirt over the corpse-fire. The ethereal flames flicker and die out, and abruptly the undead seem to diminish and shrink back from the Dwarves in what looks like dismay! Still dragging the unmoving Ranhulf with him, Gutrikk yells for his friends to finish this...
 
 
Surrounded and bereft of the magical power of the corpse-fire, the Barrow-Lord's form becomes solid. It's ancient blade whirls and parries with supernatural skill, but the Dwarven numbers are too much and it is soon overwhelmed. With a ghastly shriek that echoes around the barrow's summit, it's physical form becomes wind-blown tatters on the breeze, that quickly melt away along with the unnatural mists. With the undead curse lifted, Ranhulf's eyes flicker and he rises to a sitting position with a groan. Mercifully he appears unharmed, despite his ordeal!
 
 
From their vantage-point, the Dwarves can now make out the path through the valley- beyond this lies the road to Gharzulgrint, fame and fortune!..  



Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Goodbye to the Frozen City...

Last week, we managed to squeeze in a final game of our current Frostgrave Campaign! This was simply due to my day-job getting crazy this time of year- in the new year we will be starting a new one (though I do have a plan in that regard...)!

I've just finished (and thoroughly enjoyed!) the Frostgrave novel Second Chances by Matthew Ward, and the climactic scene provided the inspiration for the Scenario we used.

The aim was to recover the four Treasures- interfering with a Treasure in any way (via Telekenesis or just picking it up) awoke the spirit of a long-dead Wizard that would appear as a Wraith in the central tower. These Wraiths once formed an evil cabal determined to cheat death by devouring the life-force of all living creatures in the City. These followed the rules for the Lich Lord in the Thaw of the Lich Lord expansion, but with only one HP each. Once all four Wraiths were defeated, their Master would himself appear in the central tower (again, using the Lich Lord stats but with only half his HP)- destroying him would end the game.
A tall order indeed!

Knowing this was to be the final game, we all spent every bit of gold we had on better Soldiers.
Herr Doktor Schreck (now recovered) would finally get to use his Ring of Power, Dregg and Grubb my surviving Goblin Thieves were upgraded to Treasure Hunters, and Mungo went from Infantryman to Barbarian. Most exciting of all, I purchased a Captain- the infamous Raggedy Bill, the murder-scarecrow!

*The Plague Doktors skulk in the trees. In the foreground we have Mungo, Raggedy-Bill (who is apparently so evil that snow melts wherever his wooden feet tread!), Dregg, the Apprentice, Igor; the Thug Fritz and the Archer Ivan.
Well ahead of them we have the rest of the Warband including Doktor Schreck himself (being uncharacteristically aggressive). Looming to their right we have the forbidding wall of the ruined tower.

Tony's Warband headed straight for the central tower with their characteristic aggression, and his Telekinesis-happy Spellcasters summoned the first two Wraiths.

*The first Wraith materialises. Below it, under the wooden plank, you can see Tony's Warband (Treasure in tow) cautiously entering the  ancient tower...

So began a ranged duel between his many Rangers and the undead Wizards. Initially the Wraiths had the upper-hand, but soon the sheer number of incoming arrows began to tell and the first one fell with a hellish shriek! The other Warbands breathed a collective sigh of relief- we had all been on the wrong end of his formidable 'bowline' this Campaign, so it was nice to see it put to use on something other than ourselves!

As the rest of the Treasures were gathered up with gleeful haste, the remaining Wraiths appeared and things got decidedly heated for Tony (we were all secretly hoping that his mob would be overwhelmed by the combined magical onslaught of the Wraiths!). It looked like our scheme might work until Andy, his blood up, charged into the tower to get to grips with the undead! Caught between two Warbands, the Wraiths began to fall one by one...


*Another Wraith (centre) is caught in a doorway between Tony and Andy's Soldiers, high on the walls of the tower!

While this unlikely- yet noble- alliance fought to preserve Frostgrave's living inhabitants on the walls of the storm-wracked tower, the Plague Doktors skulked in the trees near the main gates, waiting to see the outcome before getting involved. It was at this point that they spied Tom's Warband, led by the hated Sigillist that had betrayed Doktor Schreck in the Breeding Pits weeks earlier, making their way to the gates. Self-proclaimed 'Man of Science' he may be, but the good Doktor could not let such a chance for vengeance pass him by! The ragged mob of desperate scum and villainy came screaming out of the treeline just as the Sigillist himself was in the open- surrounded on all sides by misshapen Goblins, deranged lepers and a big dumb brute with a rusty scythe, the hated Wizard was cut down!
Seeing his employer shanked to death, one of Tom's (several) noble Templars charged forth to exact vengeance- but with a wave of Doktor Schreck's hand, his mighty greatsword crumbled to dust in his grasp and the unarmed man was quickly pulled down by the unwashed mass. The taste of vengeance sweet in their collective snaggle-toothed mouths, my Warband set about the reeling Sigillists. Raggedy Bill and Mungo subsequently made a nourishing gruel out of the Sigillist Apprentice, a Knight and a further Templar, before Tom's troops rallied and counter-attacked. The snows before the courtyard ran red, but predictably my own underlings soon began to suffer heavy casualties and started to slink away into the gathering darkness leaving their dead (including Doktor Schreck!) lying where they fell... Igor rubbed his gloved hands in glee; now he would be Wizard instead of the Wizard!

*Bloody mayhem before the tower gates between my Plague Doktors and Tom's surprised Sigillists.

While the screams and bellows of the vicious fight below echoed upwards, Tony and Andy continued the good fight atop the tower. With the final Wraith vanquished, the Overlord of the cabal appeared to unleash magical death upon the impertinent mortals. However, some poor dice rolling on his part saw his grand entrance become something of a farce- in fact, if he hadn't been ethereal he would most probably have tripped on his robe and tumbled down the stairs!

Seizing their chance, our heroes made one last charge and in a flurry of weapons the undead fiend was no more- a lingering shriek carried on the cold breeze all that remained of the anticlimactic revenant!

...And so, our tale draws to a close. Ancient evil turned out to be not as evil as we expected, and the Plague Doktors, now led by a power-drunk Igor, have slunk off into the night to plot new experiments.
New Warbands are being planned for the first Campaign of 2018- I am leaning towards taking my Barbarians, led by the Elementalist Tor Stormbrand.

However, it is rumoured that the Ghost Archipelago has returned to the Southern ocean, and crews are being hired to set sail in search of the mythical Crystal Pool...

*My Ghost Archipelago terrain- needs more jungle trees, but it's looking good so far- now I need to build and paint a Heritor and crew, and convince the other guys to do the same! Shouldn't be too hard...

Monday, 4 December 2017

Shattered Realm- Advanced Rules

I'm very happy to report that it seems a fair few people have had a look at the Shattered Realm stuff so far, so here's a link to the Advanced Rules for those interested:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/m8rqize0v0gur59/SR%20Advanced%20Rules%20Doc%20V.2.5%20COPY..odt?dl=0

This smaller document adds Break Points, Visibility rules (for representing the darkness of the caverns below or even eerie mist on the surface), Mounts, Magic (of which there are two kinds!), and some basic rules for Solo Play.
Last night I found myself with a little time on my hands, and so played a small Solo battle- I'll put a report up on here very soon...

As always, this is still very early days and things may very well change down the line- if you have any feedback from playing SR yourselves, then please do drop a comment here or over on the LAF!

Cheers!

Return to Dracula's America, Part 3- Louder Than Words

Here we are with the last in this little 'mini-series' of Posts giving you new rules to try out in your games of Dracula's Ameri...