zaterdag 29 augustus 2015

An eclipse, an old man and the Baron's daughter

This afternoon, my son and I had a little wargame, partly as a farewell to the summer holidays and partly to finally inaugurate my stone circles.

The basic premise was as such:
Once again the baron's daughter, the Lady Mygraine, found herself mysteriously locked outside the castle on the evening of a lunar eclipse. As it happened a local Necromancer, August Knochenmaurer, needed a victim for that night, what coincidence... As soon as her abduction was discovered (Which was quickly, as the baron always gets suspicious when the servants start acting relaxed and suddenly stop wearing cheese in their ears.) the baron summoned the nearest heroes. It is known that she will most likely be sacrificed in one of the stone circles in the local forest. Two bands of heroes respond, but who will arrive on time? 

At this point I gave my son the choice which warband to play: My faithful knight Lucien D'Abelard with his squire and a few retainers: 2 spearmen and 3 archers. Or the Paladin Hieronymusch Lightbringer and his comrade Father Gerhardt, two occult-hunting powerhouses. (We used the IHMN rules and both companies were roughly 200 points. That's how much of a pair of brutes Gerhardt and Hieronymusch are!) After carefully considering all the cons and pros, he opted for the duo of godbothering maniacs. (a good choice it turned out). The other heroes would play no part in the game, being locked out by a wall of thorns summoned by the necromancer.

Here is the table I had set up:

He could enter the board from any table edge and had to search for the circle where the Lady Mygraine and the necromancer were at, by getting within 3" of it. I didn't which one it was either, as we randomly rolled each time he approached one. As an eclipse night brings out strange creatures of every kind, each turn I'd randomly roll if and what creatures would show up.
Here's what happened:

His heroes entered the field on the hill on the left table edge.
Gerhardt suggests investigating the leftmost circle first:

Soon the two would-be saviours are beset on by huge corpse-grubs, as large as hunting dogs:
After a few practice swings, they soon get the hang of it and gut the filthy creatures. This was not the right circle, so they press on!

As they approach the second circle, the restless dead emerge behind them, but Gerhardt convinces Hieronymusch to keep their goal in mind and push on:
What is that screeching up ahead? Is that vile necromancer sacrificing piglets as a warm up?
As they press on, skeletal archers also appear from deeper in the woods, to be heroically ignored, they had a lady to save after all! (I wish my son would stay that focused when doing his chores....)

Our heroes skirt a patch of woodland to spoil the undead archers's aim and find out it weren't piglets after all:

They found the location of the ritual!
In his fervor, Hieronymusch advances quickly as Lady Mygraine screeches and wails in fear.
The necromancer responds immediately, chanting curses and directing his undead minions to attack.
Soon our heroes are beset from all sides, while the necromancer gesticulates and spits dire incantations at our brave duo, but their faith shields their souls as steel and skill shields their bodies. (Seriously, despite succeeding all casting rolls but one, the heroes' Pluck tests voided all Curses I attempted. They were truly blessed!)
Hieronymusch engages the undead warriors shambling at them, allowing Gerhardt to slip past them and assault the vile conjurer of the dead. Meanwhile the Lady Mygraine howls for salvation and shrieks encouragements at our brave, faithful warriors.
A prolonged, tense combat follows, with Hieronymusch finding his movements hindered in the press of bodies and the skeletons' blows bouncing off his faith-hardened armour. At the same time Gerhardt and the necromancer trade one vicious blow after the other, but each fail to land the killing strike. Our comrades find their reserves and strength slowly being whittled down. (It was really very tense, potentially killing blows or Pluck tests failing and succeeding respectively by a single point repeatedly!) Meanwhile the Lady Mygraine caterwauls grievously...
Finally, an underhanded attack slips past Father Gerhardt's guard and lays him low!
Seeing his friend and ally in the dirt, our valiant Paladin tries to break off from the altercation with the mob of skeletons, but is held back by the press of dessicated bodies. Finally he breaks free and, with a few large strides, confronts the vile corpse-mage! The ambulatory corpses, erm, ambulate after him, trying to protect their master.
His arm jars as the feeble-looking man blocks his first strike, then a blow thuds into his armour, staggering him. How can such a decrepit looking man be so strong? Disconcerted, Hieronymusch mumbles a prayer as he swings, finally feeling his blow connect, flesh and bones giving way to blessed steel.
The fiend is defeated, and the skeletons around him drop to the floor, lifeless once again.
The Lady Mygraine shrieks her joy and relief.
Our Paladin quickly hacks her loose and escorts her back, the formerly-distressed damsel shrilling her thanks and praises all the way back to the castle.

The next day, the hero and the baron's daughter are requested to re-enact the moment of rescue for the troubadours and painters. The lady treats the audience to her best shrieks and wails as Hieronymusch prays for the ordeal to end quickly....
As he meditates to block it all out, he starts to realize why cheeses and corks are sold at premium prices in this barony...

All in all, as things heated up, it was a genuinely tense and exciting game, victory or defeat literally hanging in the balance with every dice-throw the last couple of  turns!
As usual, IHMN served well, allowing us to focus on the story, without hassling the minutiae of the rules.
It was an interesting experience getting to load up two characters to be a 200 point warband by themselves. In the beginning I was worried that I had made the Paladin entirely impervious as the first groups of attackers had no hope of penetrating his armour at all!
A Patent Kelly suit with shield is a huge advantage against enemies with relatively primitive weapons, especially when coupled with the resilience I built in to the characters. (In my ongoing experiments to get IHMN to handle the slowly grinding down of heroes that I like about dungeon crawling, I experimented with each Hero, which both Paladin and Priest were, giving them Numb as standard*. Additionally, Hieronymusch got Fanatic, granting even more resilience.) Initially this seeming invulnerability made my son feel a bit cocky about the Paladin's chances. But once the Paladin got mobbed by skeletons and he discovered that with the mob-up bonus they suddenly could get past his armour, he got a bit nervous. Especially once those redundancies got scraped off and each Pluck test could be the last! Which is pretty darn close to the effect I was hunting for, but I feel it will need some more thought and fine tuning, as well as some testing with less extreme/outlier characters than these two brutes.

*Which I houserule as ignoring the first failed Pluck test, essentially an extra wound.

4 opmerkingen:

  1. Great table and figs...and report!

    I've played a lot of IHMN but only one game where a normal-sized compay went up against three maxed out figs. Few attacks got through and the 2+ Pluck saved the few that ended up being pretty one-sided. We've now gone in the opposite direction, making sure each Company has a good number of figures, rarely having characters with anything better than 3+ Pluck and trying to not overpower them with Talents.

  2. Thank you!

    That was my fear as well,so neither hero had a 2+ Pluck (3+ for the paladin and 4+ for the priest), and I kept their FV and SV reasonably normal, most of their extreme power sat in the redundant free passes and rerolls for Pluck and the Paladin's boilerplate suit.
    All part of figuring out a proper powerlevel for epic heroes, the ones that can wade through a battle with ease, in a system that is very much geared towards the valour of average men. My end goal is to get to a set of stats and a sense of balance so that heroes stand head and shoulders above common men, able to go one on one with monsters. But without becoming unassailable in the process, a group of "mere" humans should still be a threat to them, and likewise, a group of mere men should also be able to take on a monster, but with more difficulty/casualties.
    I usually try to limit Talents as well, the less we need to track and remember, the more we can focus on action and story!

  3. What a great game and the table looks absolutely superb. A lovely wy to round off the summer holidays.

  4. Smashing Modhail I really enjoyed reading your report great fun and looked great.