NPCs and campaign mechanicsNot even the Graveroot Sylvaneth could remember when the woods of the Harrowmark were young. For time immemorial, not a single sapling could be seen by those brave or foolish enough to venture deep in the woods.
But then, the Necroquake came and in its wake the raging wild magic of the Arcanum Optimar. Weather- and battle-worn Spellhunters came, hunting for rogue Endless Spells. Few returned from the deepest woods. But those that did claimed that somewhere deep in the woodland of dead trees and tangled undergrowth, a Tree is born and growing, feeding on a knot of sorcerous energy seeping up from the soil below.
Some say it leaks from the hundreds of graves that permeate the Shyishian soil, thousands of souls flowing into the Tree’s heartwood. Others claim it comes from a hidden Stormvault, long forgotten beneath the dead forests. Yet others claim the Tree is twisted and corrupted by Chaos magic. Some even theorise that the energy of the Necroquake itself is trapped forever in the dead wood. The servants of Nurgle whisper the Tree is one of Horticulus Slimux’s dreaded Black Oaks. Then there are those telling that the Tree grows over the burial site of a great Spellhunter, while for others a powerful sorceress was cursed and turned into the Tree, her soul-stuff raging to be free.
As the rumours spread, the mad and the brave once again tread the Harrowmark's gloomy paths.
Down from the Everdark Peaks came Badruk 'eadsplitta with his Ard Boyz. Whether they are actually seeking the Twisted Oak, nobody knows. What is certain is that the Ironjawz have already sacked many of the impoverished farms scattered through the woods.
Hagel Rotshroud, keeper of the Skydock of Wortbad, has left his tower. Surrounded by his zombies, he seeks the Twisted Oak to finally free himself from servitude to Krathar Duskchain the Vampire.
For the first few weeks of the campaing, Saul and I will be the only players, as the rest of the group is busy. To add a bit of variety to our games, we've decided to use my Badruk's Boyz and Saul's Hagel's Zombies as non-playing characters. They will not progress on their own campaign tracker, but will allow the main characters, the Rotmoons and Kalyustar's Cursed Company, to face different opponents. For the main characters, the campaign will be played following Warcry rules, with a couple of subtle changes.
First of all, we wanted the Quests and Convergences to fit the Harrowmark and the Twisted Oak story. Therefore, we are writing our own Convergences based on the Rotmoons' search for magical wood to repair their ship and Kalyustar's deranged plan to take over the Harrowmark. Saul is writing the Convergences I will play as the Aspirant, and viceversa. We are also letting the other know the Convergences one at a time, so that there is a feeling of discovery and not knowing where the story is going. When the others will join us, we'll do the same for them as well.
Second, Rob suggested a 'Fail Forward' mechanic, so that, even if a Convergence is not won, the story can progress. I really love the idea as I found repeating the Convergences until you win them too much video-gamey. It feels like you have saved your game before a particularly hard point and keep replaying the same stretch. It is also narratively limiting. With this condition, the only possible outcome of a campaign is that the warband completes the quest. There is no option for warbands to be unsuccesfull and therefore disgraced.
If we fail our first or second convergence, we will progress on the campaign tracker. Rather than receiving an artefact or trait, however, we'll have to remove one controlled territory from our roster, or 5 glory points if we do not have any controlled territory. For the Final Convergence, we have not yet settled on a 'failure outcome'.
This can wait until we play the next campign, but we were thinking of a curse being placed on the warband. This could take the form of not generating wild dices in the first turn of the following battles or the value of multiples rolled in following battles being reduced by 1. In either case, the curse will be on the warband until they succesfully complete another Convergence or Challenge Battle.
Our first game is scheduled for next week, so you won't have to wait long to see some action.