Monday, 2 October 2017

SHADOWS OVER HAMMERHAL - THE JOURNEY - part 2



Sunday 16th July 2017

So we revisit to pick up where we left off last time where our daring heroes went even further down into the dark beneath Hammerhall

Only difference here is we now have 1 of the heroes painted.
Step up Mr Loremaster!



Being played by my youngest daughter and the lack of females in any GW world. I've basically conned her into believing that any slightly androgynous elf (aelf) are actually all girls.
A bit of purple and pink surely solidifies that right? But then she questions "is it a boy? because it has blue on it" to which being the good father I am and completely lie and impose a rather old fashioned look on what is male and female...she’s an inquisitive kid and I love the fact that she questions everything. But she simply would not play if she couldn't be a girl. So a little white lie here isn't going to hurt :)

So we venture on down into the dungeon, this level introduces a few new things. structured ambushes, a couple of map board triggered occurrences like silver tower, we managed to nab some treasure too, a healing elixir and some magic boots that the Cogsmith really needed and wanted to keep him swift on his feet to fire those pistols off at any ambushes. We also managed to find an ancient relic too which the Fleetmaster gladly got his paws on after a nice little 'Indiana Jones' style smash and grab game past some traps to nab the treasure!

The one thing we noted was that our characters were starting to grow on us. The added fluff for the characters in the painting guide actually gives them names. Which means you can identify with them better. This lacked in silver tower and left the characters as being pretty soulless in my opinion. and we all agree that just simply by giving a name to the characters does actually make them feel a little more real and that you care about them somewhat, and i wish they had of gone with the character names on the character cards as opposed to the 'model' name. But this is surely to cement the marketing side of the GW world. But i really feel the characters names would have been better placed here. (Nothing a little Photoshop can’t fix)

So we reached the end of our second dungeon, but there was still more rooms to search back up the stairs from where we came. So it was decided to head back on up. Sneaking past the obstacles in our path and heading back luckily without any further ambushes.

Once back to the first dungeon level you have to reopen all of the doors (i still don't get why they called them portals. Doors just fits better in this setting)
As such any previous adversaries are gone, but each time you open a door the GM has chance for an ambush. Which is a nice little touch to keep you on your toes, we decided at this point as it was getting late that we would head back to the stairs up and call it a night. Luckily no ambushes so we headed out of the dungeon and back up to Cinderfell to discover what joys the land above could bring.



First rolling on a random event which allowed us to visit 2 locations each as opposed to the 1 each of any other normal visits.
We then proceeded to discover what Cinderfell had to offer the intrepid adventurers

I'll note at this point. All the fluff, maps and images throughout the rule book start to come together.
All of the places you can visit are shown on the map so it feels like actual real places you are heading to and really helps build an RPG element into the game.

The adventurers went their separate ways as we discovered more about the city.

The Fleetmaster went first. Heading to the guild of certified Thumaturgists, (i think my daughter has been playing way too much Skyrim as she thought she would get an offer to join the guild. which you don't. Instead you get chance to buy some carefully crafted potions. Sadly having no gold this proved a worthless venture. So off he went pit fighting in a hope of hard earning a little gold. Sadly. He lost and was out of options other than to go sit in the tavern with a black eye, watching the patrons drink and be merry until the rest of the band returned.

Meanwhile across Cinderfell the Cogsmith. Had just arrived at the Rift market that stands next to the Adramar Rift after browsing the wares he decided against any purchases and decided to head off to the Toil's End to take part in a drinking contest. Sadly he drank like an Elf and ended up coming away with nothing but an extreme headache.

The Lord Castellant decided to head to the local chapel 'of the shattered blade' for a little prayer. But ultimately coming away with nothing as this place is more for faith healing and he had nothing in need of healing. Upon leaving the chapel he headed over to the house of venargo to see what the fuss was all about. Opting to not buy anything or sell at the auction house.

Lastly the loremaster was on a mission first heading to Baugrens Bountiful Bazaar and successfully haggling on some potions for the upcoming revisit beneath the city. Before finally heading to Red yugol's reverie, sitting with the red yugol to see if his (her) future could be told. Sadly this time around nothing was to prevail.

So at this point we wrapped up our second session.
What have we discovered/learnt?
  • We are still a little concerned that we won’t get much out of this game. It has a lot of added depth that silver tower lacked. But the 8 dungeon levels still seems relatively thin. And think there will be very little to revisit once we are done. You could argue that previous games like HQ had the same problem. But that base game came with 14 quests and because of its approach, still felt re-playable. "So what you knew where Sir Ragnar was kept" it just didn't seem to matter. As well as all the supporting expansions. It was never a concern. Thematically these quests have much more to them. And the approach to the dungeon layouts is still variable in a sense that each location feels different in how it plays. But does this detract away from replay-ability? Only time will tell.
  • Cinderfell. Whilst a nice new touch. It isn't explained great in the rules. At one point it says not to read anything to the players until they visit the locations. And another point it says to read them out. I liked discovering these for the first time. But as these characters are all inhabitants of this city. You would of thought they knew what was where. I can feel this getting very samey on each visit and we are yet to really discover how beneficial these are as we were relatively unsuccessful in our first visit, but again time will tell.
  • The relatively seamless dungeon layout works great. And whilst it does suggest you map out where you have been it isn’t really needed do to the charts provided on the back of the GM book.

Friday 21st July 2017
So session number 3 kicked off. after out visit to Cinderfell the heroes returned back to the first dungeon to explore the rest of that level that they had touched upon in the first session and passed back through in session 2 to get back up to the surface.

This session took us 3 hours!! As well as traipsing through previously explored chambers and discovering another6 more...3 hours! And this happened for 2 reasons.
When playing crawlers...we crawl. I mean its bad tactics to open a door on your last action right?
Unless of course you get caught with an ambush on nearly every single attempt. And the GM also rolled high on all of these so we were pretty much always up against a gang of acolytes.
The heroes took a lot of damage. A lot of recuperating and then more acolytes came along. Rinse and repeat.

We got ambushed to hell and back. And whilst there were no casualties, it was pretty close a few times. Literally every ambush roll was dropping in and big too!

There wasn’t really much new. A couple of not so interesting rooms we discovered a stairwell both up and down and the dwarf maxed out on gold. From one of the searches. Also the loremaster nearly got wiped out by a rather nasty trap!

We found a stairwell both up and down but decided to uncover the rest of the map. Where we found a room packed to the rafter with acolytes again. And in dropped an unexpected event and guess what?
Another AMBUSH!!!
Luckily myself as the Castellant got lucky with some stun roll which were able to raise my rather dwindling renown up quite a bit.

At this point the loremaster had already gone around the wheel once and overlapped the Castellant.
By the time we had cleared this last room the loremaster had gone around twice. And the Fleetmaster and Cogsmith had both picked up a skill a piece.

Once done we decided to venture back to the stairs and head back on up to Cinderfell. This time the Castellant was met with prise which finally gave me a chance to draw a skill.

After this the Heroes went off to spend their spoils.

First the Fleetmaster headed off to the rift market and picked up an ancient relic.
The Cogsmith headed over to the house of venargo and spent all of his 5 gold pieces on a treasure card of choice.
The loremaster only had 1 gold so didn’t do anything.
and myself as the Castellant wanted to try and earn some more gold in the pit fighting tournament in the vain hope of cashing in for some much needed extra renown, only to get knocked out in the first round by the barkeep...1st round KO. I'm ashamed.

Anyways we packed up and are eagerly awaiting our next session.

What did we learn this time?
As we have gotten more familiar with our characters their strengths and weaknesses are starting to stand out.
  • Lord Castellant - is a little bit too generic. He’s a healer, but not a very good one, his stun ability seems to be his greatest strength but needs a 6 to trigger it. Overall. he’s a very run of the mill average character that so far hasn’t been able to chalk up many kills and lends much better as a supporting character due to his minor healing abilities (which again need a 6) and his stun ability. I'm currently using him to tank his way in lock down some of the bad guys and hopefully get as many stuns as possible for the other heroes to come in and finish them off.
  • Cogsmith - it’s odd that the ranged expert is a dwarf! But he’s got guns! His axe doesn’t do enough damage to warrant him getting up close and personal. And the rules for portals and LOS couple with the small cramped chambers means it’s not often he can actually get a shot off. You really need to keep him protected away by using the other characters as a shield to get the best out of him. His Grudge-raker is beastly if you can string a combo of hits together. But can be quite unreliable.
  • Fleetmaster - he's the poacher of the team. Able to deal pretty high damage. Being able to link together attacks too meaning he often swoops in late to score the renown.
  • Loremaster - seems to be an absolute beast. That my 4 year old is basically clearing up the table for us. Left right and centre hacking with the sword and picking off the other guys with her ranged magic. Maybe its luck. But she’s simply tearing up the place.
  • Overall the Castellant is coming out as the poorest character so far. Maybe I’m playing him wrong. But his strength seems to be in his support. And that’s not even that great. His to hit rolls are all 4+ which means he misses quite a bit too. But his lowest damage he can deal out is 2. I guess time will tell whether or not i am actually playing him wrong. I’m hoping a few skills might flesh him out to get the best of him.
  • Searching. From the previous sessions i was kind of let down by searching. But it’s starting to flesh out a little more now. originally i wanted to house rule it that a roll of a 1 gave a low level ambush (think wandering monster in HQ) and this might still be a good little house rule to implement. However due to the sheer luck of the GM dice rolls. And the amount of times we got ambushed in this session, it might be slight overkill to bring more ambushes.
  • The games feeling a little easy and a little bit rinse and repeat, this could be due to our cautious style of play and the amount of ambushes. But i have hopes our next session will bring us cool new things to discover and draw away from the same hard slog we endured here.

So far our 3 sessions have covered the entirety of 2 levels over the course of about 6 hours of play. So my early theory of this only giving a minimal output already seem to be getting quashed. But i really do hope we get some expansions for this. The game really needs a bestiary. As i would already of started creating a new quest by now if i were able to use Skaven :)

Also i don’t quite understand how you would crossover minis from silver tower to this game. Other than exotic adversaries. And a kairic acolyte ability to bring in a pink horror. I don’t quite understand why people are saying "you can use everything from silver tower in this game" as thus far. It doesn’t seem that apparent to me.

but regardless. we are still enjoying. maybe someone can answer if weve played it wrong or have any other questions i can hopefully cover in the next part.
for now. ive got to take some pictures..