Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stone Falls intro - gaming with a narrative

As with most people I wargame with, we prepare and play our games and lists around a tournament model.  While this is suitable most of the time it is nice to work with a narrative in mind for some fun games.  I have enjoyed slowly working on the Hub for 40k and some of the other guys have shown interest in the actual story going on in and between games.  Now its Warhammer Fantasy's turn.

Next weekend four of us are going to play a 2v2 game of Warhammer Fantasy using 2500 points each, so 5k a side.  Joel and Wil are bringing Empire and Bretonnians while Ryan and I both bringing Vampire Counts.  Joel had suggested a town setting and brought up Helmgart, south of Marienburg.  Now I read into the background a bit more and Helmgart itself is a Fortress watching over Axe Bite Pass, so it was time to pick a neighbouring town.

Around the same time the Pathfinder game I host weekly had come to an awkward halt, as a player had dropped out due to family commitments and our unbalanced party got it's collective arse kicked by a pack of Yeth hounds.  Now as this was my 'break' from GMing I was happy enough to go back to running a game.  The plan was to start on the second part of Rogue Trader 40k Lure of the Expanse, but I felt it was time for an original home grown game, especially as with only 3 players I can organically change the story to suit what they play.

While the players created their new characters we talked about a world setting.  Do we use a commercial one like Faerun for Forgotten Realms(pre 4th ed...) , the Golarian setting of Pathfinder or something else.  We chose a setting of our own creation, dark and gritty as we felt the pregen worlds of the D20 systems were a bit generic fantasy at times.  Not too many Gods for the divine classes to draw upon and start in a localised setting where I dont have to describe the politcal and religious views of other countries yet.  So with  my head leaning towards the Warhammer Old World, Ferelden from Dragon Age and Westeros from GoT, the town of Stone Falls was born.

While the RPG version of Stone Falls is not exactly in the Warhammer world the comparisons and story elements are close enough.  So in the last two weeks the adventure the players have embarked on with their D20s is acting as a prologue to the massive battle to take place on Saturday.

I will share the adventures of Duncan the Eidolon, Marcus the Ranger and Lou the Druid - there was Ferdinand the Magus but ahem... well you'll see.  In the meantime here is the narrative setting from a Warhammer perspective.

North of the Helmgart Fortress, nestled in the dark boughs of the southern Reikwald sits the town of Stone Falls.

Stone Falls is named after a waterfall in the deep forest, whose torrent plummets from a lofty rocky crag into an abyssal pit deep into the earth. No one knows what lurks in the stygian waterways below the forest, but visitors to the Falls hear peculiar sounds from the subterranean depths intermingled with the crashing waters.

Stone Falls the town is situated off the main road, closer to the arterial trade road from Marrienburg than the ones to Carroburg and the capital of Altdorf. The town is normally a quiet place where travellers will divert their wagons and carraiges to seek the warmth and ale of the Drunken Drake Inn within the town's thick wooden walls.

The locals call this part of the Reikwald the Dark Thorn woods, as brambles, briars and thorn bushes grow to immense size. Whether some peculiarity of the soil or stemming from a darker cause, the plant life clamours for space and intertwines so that daylight is a rare sight within the forest canopy. Here in the darkness, tribes of malicious goblins plot their raids and thefts on the townsfolk. The Beastmen, children of Chaos gather around monolithic Herdstones and divine portents from the dark powers. Men with minds addled or murder in their hearts make camp and speak of foul deeds and dark intent.

Some citizens of Stone Falls live in defiance of the danger within the southern Reikwald, making their homes outside the walls. Here in the space between the town and the dark arboreal interior sit small farms. Growing enough for the townsfolk and little else these muddy plots of land provide a clear track of land for the town's sentries to spot any would be assailant. The skilled bowmen who patrol the towns borders have felled many an invader across these fields.

Recently the rangers and woodsmen who brave the Dark Thorn woods have reported an increase in animal attacks. Where normally the fauna will shy away from people, now they charge and openly seek to harm the woodsmen. Spiders the size of dogs and larger have been spotted amongst the shadowy trees and those who still follow the old ways speak of an ancient evil, returned to reclaim its fallen domain.

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