Friday, 15 November 2019

The Shape-shifters

This is new quest that I have been working on. I doesn't yet fit in with the ongoing adventures described so far on the blog, but I might add it in to the story someday...

"Garblox Gorehammer, who calls himself the Goblin King, has laid siege to the Imperial city of Talabheim with a huge army of greenskins. The Emperor's northern army has been obliterated by the goblins, and in his desperation he has pleaded with you, his greatest Heroes, to somehow lift the siege. If you can get to the Goblin King and slay him, there is a small chance that the alliance of orc and goblin tribes might fall apart. To this end, you have travelled across a fire-ravaged countryside to reach Talabheim. Many thousands of Greenskins now surround the city, and even worse, the key fortification commanding it from the heights to the south, has already fallen. The goblins have moved their machines of war into the fort and are even now lobbing fiery death into the screaming city. Talabheim has only a few hours left to survive, so we must act immediately. The Emperor's wizards have placed a shape-shifting spell upon each of you, magically disguising you as goblins. The spell should last long enough to get you through the siege-lines and into the fort, and possibly longer. Make your way up to where Garblox holds court. If luck is on our side, the confusion within the enemies ranks may give us a chance against huge numbers. Do not try to fight them all. Speed and subterfuge are your greatest allies now".

Notes and special rules for this quest
- This quest is for experienced Heroes that have completed at least the basic quests.
- All four Heroes start the game in 'goblin form'. Use a suitable model to represent the Hero, until he changes back to his usual form.
- You will also need Giant Wolves and Ogres for this quest, plus lots of orcs and goblins. If you don't have these models just use something else.
- Whilst in goblin form they have all their usual stats, abilities, spells and equipment. The shape-shifting spell is simply a magical glamour that has been placed on them that makes them look just like goblins. They are safe from attack whilst they remain in this magical disguise, and may search for secret doors and traps even in the presence of monsters. They may only search for treasure if there are no monsters in the same room, regardless of which form they are in.
- The only way that a hero loses his shape-shifting disguise is if he rolls a double during his movement roll. If a double is rolled that Hero, and only that Hero, immediately reverts to his usual form, and may then be attacked by monsters on Morcar's turn as usual.
- However, if a Hero rolls double for movement, he may chose to lose 2 Mind Points, and stay in goblin form. This represents the strain placed on the Hero's psyche by trying to hold onto the effects after the magic should have "naturally" dissipated.
- The Evil Wizard player must always allow Heroes in goblin form to pass through squares occupied by his monsters, and if ALL of the Heroes in a room or corridor are in goblin form, he may not move ANY of the monsters in that room or corridor.
- If a Hero attacks a monster whilst he is in goblin form, he gains the benefit of complete surprise and the monster rolls no defence dice against the attack. The Hero remains in goblin form, but all monsters within the same room or corridor will know that something is up and can attack the Hero as normal. If the Hero manages to reach another room or corridor and he is still in goblin form, any new monsters encountered will be fooled by the disguise as before.

A - The Heroes enter here. The gate was smashed down by the greenskins during their assault yesterday and the corridor is full of corpses of the Imperial soldiers.
B - This is a courtyard inside the fort. The walls of the fort rise up steeply on all sides. If a Hero in goblin form passes by a giant wolf, inform that player that the wolf gives him a good sniff, but then ignores him.
C - All of the goblins in this room are armed with spears. The weapons rack is empty.
D - This orc has one hand poised over a lever that will trigger a rolling boulder trap (from the square marked with an arrow). If the orc see's a Hero who is not in goblin form, he can release the boulder on Morcar's turn. It rolls using two red dice and hits all figures in its path with 5 attack dice, which may not be defended against. If a Hero can kill the orc before it releases the boulder, the Hero may himself choose to trigger the trap by standing in the square that the orc was in and using one action.
E - This is a rocky ledge on the north side of the fort which overlooks the city. From here the Heroes can see the burning houses and the inhabitants of Talabheim running for their lives. Of more pressing concern however is the hail of goblin arrows now hurtling towards the Heroes from an overlooking turret. Each Hero on the ledge that is not in goblin form is attacked with 5 combat dice, which may be defended against normally.
F - This is the chamber of Boil-face, a Goblin shaman. He stands on the X - move 10, attack 3, defend 4, body 4, mind 4. He has the spells Summon Greenskins, Cloud of Chaos & Command. In addition, as a magic user he is more likely to detect a magical deception. Morcar may roll one die for each Hero that enters the room in Goblin form. If the result is lower than Boil-face's Mind Point score, the shape-shifting spell is permanently ended and the Hero must revert to his ordinary form.
The chest contains the artefact Ring of Return.
G - These are the archers that were firing at the Heroes whilst they were on the rocky ledge. They are all armed with short-bows.
H - The torture rack represents an orc war machine that is flinging flaming missiles down into the city. The Heroes should slay the orcs manning the machine.
I - There is potion of healing on the table (4 BP).
J - Garblox Gorehammer, King of the Goblins, stands on the square marked X - move 8, attack 4, defend 5, body 5, mind 4.
If Garblox is slain, tell the players that they may hurl his body from a window in the room, down into the goblin camp below. The sight of their King's broken body will cause the greenskin army camped outside Talabheim to start fighting amongst themselves, or else retreat from the city walls. The Imperial city is now safe. However, the Heroes will still have to find a way out of the fort, dealing with any monsters that lie between them and gate A (unless they have the Ring of Return).
K - These treasure chests contain the Goblin King's loot. Each chest contains 150 gold coins, but is also armed with a spear trap.

Wandering monster - Giant wolf

Quest 8 - Legacy of the Orc Warlord

"Ulag's foul offspring, Grak, has sworn revenge on those who killed his father. Although it has taken him several months, he has finally tracked you down and captured you in an ambush. Now you are held prisoner in his dungeons while he racks his brains to devise a terrible punishment for you. While the guard sleeps, however, you manage to pick the lock of your cell with an old rat bone. you must find your equipment and escape".

Continuing with our alternating of the basic quests with two different groups of Heroes, it is Sir Ragnar and his chums who take on this quest. After all, it was this group that slew Ulag a few quests ago, and should therefore be the subject of Grak's revenge. This would be another quest where I, as the Evil Wizard, would have to try hard to get the game balance right. The worth of this Hero group is in the weapons and armour that they carry; with these items taken from them by Grak's minion's, I was worried that with their low body points they would get wiped out before they could find them again. I hoped this would be counterbalanced by the fact that their were 5 Heroes, and the wizard Zaphod eventually having access to better spells than last time (more on that later).

Sir Ragnar can hardly believe his bad fortune, having been captured and imprisoned AGAIN! Whilst he grumbles at his men crammed into the cell with him, Sneeks quietly picks the lock and pushes open the door. Garmin follows him out and strangles the sleeping goblin with his bare hands.

In what is quite a surprise for me, the Heroes decide to split up, reasoning that they would be more likely to find their equipment. Sir Ragnar and Garmin head left from their cell...

...whilst the other three Heroes interrupt an orcish feast in the centre room. Uh oh, that's a lot of monsters.

It was at this point that a dispute broke out at the gaming table. Somehow I had forgot to inform the wizard player that as well as missing all their equipment, spells could not be cast until Zaphod found his items. A bad error on my part. The players suggested that we waive that rule and allow Zaphod to use his spells, but I ruled that we should stick to the quest notes.
In another surprising act by the Hero players, they decided to actually run into the room with all the monsters, rather than their usual tactic of waiting at the door. They reasoned that with only one combat die each in attack, they would need more Heroes in combat to actually do any damage. Thankfully, Sarymoor managed to kill one of the orcs, and lost only one body point to the Fimir in my counterattack. This made me feel a bit better about forgetting to tell the players a crucial rule earlier.

Meanwhile, Sir Ragnar finds a cupboard containing all their weapons! What's more, its unguarded.

Which leads to a mad dash of the Heroes out of the centre room towards their equipment, with the monsters close on their heels.

Sneeks manages to hold off the monster congo line, losing only one body point in the process. This allows time for the heavy-hitters Ragnar and Garmin to rush down and kill the monsters one by one in the corridor. The Heroes were rolling very well, whilst my monsters could barely hit anything. They must have been drinking as well as eating in the big middle room.

With the small horde of greenskins defeated, Ragnar returns to the now empty feasting room and finds a stash of 60 gold coins on the table, in amongst all the empty flagons.

By now the other Heroes have collected their equipment and trekked right around the board. This poor goblin guard, sandwiched between 5 Heroes, never stood a chance.

Another Fimir roars a battle cry. This room was to be where the Heroes would be tortured and executed, at least in the plans held in the mind of the foul Grak.

Another angle showing the "new" torture rack. As with many of my 30 year old Heroquest pieces, the rack had pieces missing, so I added two new handles and a new skull.

Whilst Ragnar and Sarymoor take on the Fimir, Sneeks has moved around to the long south corridor, and is now confronted with an orc sentry armed with a crossbow!

With Sneeks not having enough movement to reach the orc, Zaphod Swiftspell puts himself in between them and casts Shape Shift on himself, taking on the form of an orc. The confused crossbow orc cannot now fire at either Hero on his turn. The spell card does say that the monstrous appearance occurs on the casts next turn, but seeing as it was such a clever use of a spell by a player, and as I still felt guilty about not informing this wizard about his loss of spells earlier, I decided to allow it immediately.

The real orc decides to retreat further down the corridor, hoping to stay out of range of the Heroes movement.

The view from the other end of the corridor.

Sneeks can't cover the distance to the orc, so ducks inside the doorway into an empty room. Living up to his name, I feel. The crossbow orc fires at Zaphod, who has now reverted back to his human form, causing two body points worth of damage.

The Heroes are hoping that Sarymoor can reach the long corridor to lend a hand with his own crossbow, but he keeps rolling very low for movement.

Another view of the converted orc crossbowman (from a Warhammer 40,000 model!).  This orc continued to retreat and caused another two hits on my turn, this time on the swordsman Garmin. Garmin eventually killed the monster marksman, but like Zaphod was now down to just two body points.

Sir Ragnar easily swots aside two more goblins.

On the next turn the Heroes find the stairway exit from the dungeon. However, their escape is blocked by Grak and his coterie of greenskin guards.
The only changes I made to this quest (other than using different Heroes of course) was to add a few more monsters to this room and giving the crossbow to the orc in the corridor. I decided to make these changes before the game started, as I don't really like to make changes during play (it's a slippery slope for me to cheat!).

Sir Ragnar, fearless leader that he is, charges in and kills the first orc. Sarymoor tries a shot at Grak through the doorway, but misses. Meanwhile Sneeks opens the other door and outflanks the greenskins. Garmin, seriously wounded, decides not to join the fray, but the brave Zaphod enters the room in order to cast Psychedelic Flash. Not surprisingly, the half-blind monsters do no damage on Morcar's turn. Grak howls in mad frustration. Not only has his prey escaped their cell, he can't even strike at them!
Sir Ragnar then kills Grak (pictured below), before my new model even has a chance to roll any attack dice. What a disaster for Morcar!

 Zaphod then casts one of his new spells, Distract Enemies. It works better than anyone could have hoped, with the two orcs targeted killing each other on Morcar's turn!
It is then a simple matter of the other Heroes slaying the two remaining goblins, and the quest is over.

The Heroes win again, but even I have to admit that they deserved it for their great use of spells and tactics throughout. I had decided ahead of time NOT to use the stats for Grak from the American version of the game, which made Grak into a spell-caster. That would have been fun for me, but it probably wouldn't have been fair on the Heroes (who only have Zaphod and his 6 spells in their group).
I'll just have to enact my revenge next time........