Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

This is a Halloween scenario for Song of Blades and Heroes. On their way back from the Halloween festivities, four villagers stray from the road and find themselves near a stretch of woods that is said to be inhabited by evil spirits. Bolstered by the beverages they had at the festival, they decide to take a shortcut through the forest instead of a long walk back to the road and around it. Besides, just as there are legends about evil spirits, there are also stories about treasure long lost in there...

The villagers
The player's warband are three villagers (Q4+ C2) and one village leader (Q3+ C2, Leader.)

The map
I set up a 2'x2' board to play with 15mm miniatures. A green patch roughly 1/3 of the width of the board is placed in the center, creating the woods (I added some bits to make the wooded area more irregular.) The villagers are placed in contact with one of the board edges without forest terrain. Place three markers of possible treasures in the forest, evenly spread along the middle of the board.

The player may end the game as soon as one character reaches the opposing board edge. However, only the characters who are in contact or who have already left through that edge will count as survivors. Optionally, you may attempt to find the treasure. The player gains one victory point for each survivor and one for each piece of treasure.

Evil lurks in the forest
On the turnover after the first villager reaches the border of the forest, you must add three "evil lurking" markers on the board. Roll one die for each marker and place them in the middle of the corresponding numbered section, as shown in the diagram to the right.

"Evil lurking" markers activate as Q4+ characters. They will always roll a single die for activation and they only make Medium moves. If any villager used more than one action to move on the previous turn, they will move towards him (running makes noise.) Otherwise, assign numbers 1-4 to the board edges and roll a die to determine direction of movement. The markers will not leave the forest (re-roll if you get a 5-6 or an impossible direction.)

When any villager gets within 1 Medium of an "evil lurking" marker, roll one die to determine what it is. 1-2 = nothing, you must be hearing things. 3 = skeletons, 4 = wolves, 5 = ogre, 6 = vampire. Write down the number rolled. If you roll the same number again on another marker, re-roll. Once the result is determined, remove the marker and place the monsters where it was. If it was the end of the turn, the monsters may act right away. Otherwise, if the marker was resolved due to having moved towards the player, the newly placed monsters will only activate on the next turn.

The stats for the monsters are: Skeletons: two skeletons, one armed with a rusty sword and another with a short bow (Q4+ C2, Q4+ C1 Shooter: medium.) Wolves: two hungry wolves (Q4+ C2 Forester.) Ogre: one marauding ogre (Q4+ C4 Big, Long move, Slow.) Vampire: a powerful vampire (Q3+ C3 Magic-User, Terror.)

Activate the monsters in order of best to worst quality and from closest to farthest from villagers. All will roll two dice for activation except for the last, which will roll three dice. If there are still remaining markers, activate them before the monsters.

Skeletons will attack the closest villagers (the archer will prefer keeping its distance.) The wolves will gang up on the nearest villager. The ogre will attack the closest target (including monsters) except for the vampire. The vampire will target the nearest villager and will always try to transfix first. Monsters will only switch targets if their current target is killed or if they get attacked by someone else. Oh, and monsters will not check for morale.

To look for treasure, a villager must be in base contact with the treasure marker. One action must be used to search and then another one to pick up the treasure. Once the treasure is retrieved, remove the treasure marker from the board. Make a note about which villager is carrying treasure and how many (each villager can carry up to two treasures) because if they die, the treasure is lost. Note that to score victory points for the treasure, it must be with a survivor.

Other notes
Before the "evil lurking" markers are put on the map the player will be moving just the villagers. However, it's still important to take note of when a turnover happens (by failure or by moving all figures) to be able to determine if anyone ran on the previous turn. Remember that the forest reduces movement for all figures except the wolves...

Battle Report
Starting from the board edge, I slowly advance towards the forest, then move one of my characters to touch the forest edge. I then roll 5, 6, 6 for the markers, meaning evil is lurking nearby. Even worse, one of the markers is within range of my leader. I roll for it getting a 3: skeletons.

On the monsters' turn, I move the markers and then activate the skeleton archer with two successes. It moves towards the forest edge and shoots the leader, killing him! This leads to cascading morale failures, so that only one villager remains on the board. On the next activation, the villager gets three successes and runs away from danger, trying to cross the woods as fast as possible. This, of course, attracts the markers. One of the markers reaches Medium range and is resolved into the wolves (however they will only move on the next turn of the monsters.) One of the skeletons triggers a turnover.

I roll two successes for the villager, reaching the other edge of the forest. On the monsters' turn, the last marker moves closer and resolves into the Ogre. One wolf activates with one success and reaches the villager. The other one rolls a turnover.

The villager gets two successes and uses them to disengage from the wolf. On the monsters' turn, the wolf reaches the villager again and the Ogre rolls a turnover. After a series of turnovers rolled by the villager and the wolf, the villager manages to knock the wolf down (on an attack by the wolf.) The ogre activates, attacking and killing the other wolf. The villager then rolls a single success, moving close to the board edge.

The knocked down wolf recovers but doesn't have another action to chase the villager. The ogre and skeletons move towards him but are still far away. On the next round, the villager activates with two successes, more than enough to leave the board and end the game with the closest possible victory for the scenario. Whew!

After a terrible start, I got some lucky rolls, and got one survivor who'll have plenty of stories to tell on his village...

This scenario might need some tweaks for better balance. Two things I'd try, in this order, are: change the movement of the "evil lurking" markers from Medium to Short and change the skeleton archer into another skeleton warrior. Another idea is to upgrade the village leader from C2 to C3.

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