69: Gathering of the Horde
Source: Town Cryer #26
Author: Nicodemus Kyme
Broheim notes: Massive multi-warband gang fight based upon the “Gangs Of New York” film, complete with special rules for horde fighting. Recommended for 3-6 warbands per side. Could work as a massive end-of-campaign scenario (e.g. all the good warbands vs. all the chaos warbands) or as a one-off.
Rogue Captain Helmgartt Shard sucked up a great gulp of sea air that filled his lungs and leant shape to his mighty chest.
His ship, for he had taken it and its crew, The Irrepressible, surged through the eager waves that spat tendrils of white foam across its bows, with an effortless grace that belied its true bulk and power.
As a warship, The Irrepressible boasted sixteen guns, great cannons, from prow to stern, arranged port and starboard. They were the Captain's pride, polished and maintained to absolute perfection. Even if the world was slipping into the pits of hell, his ship would do so in pristine order. His faith in the guns was ironclad even if his faith in the Lord Sigmar was not. These were testing times, and the patron of the Empire's icon rested heavily about Shard's neck, a sigil of a tarnished god.
He had named all sixteen cannons; Smite and Hellfyre were his favourites. Shard ruled with a cold severity that matched the lustre of his cannons and was such that none of the Imperial deserters that made up his crew would dare disobey his orders or mutiny.
As Helmgartt peered through the breaking sunlight, the land of the Empire, his home, albeit split in three, confronted him, a shape; a dot - nothing more, invaded the glorious vista. Gaining in size by the moment, Shard realised, as his crew busied themselves about him on the deck, that it was a bird, a carrier hawk.
"Monkey, gauntlet!" he bellowed and in moments a boy appeared darting through the throng to his Captain, bearing a thick, leather gauntlet.
Shard took it without gratitude and hauled the long glove over his left hand and forearm.
"Back," he ordered, upraising his arm as the hawk soared down to the deck to clutch the gauntlet with its powerful claws.
Taking hold of its tethers and ensuring the bird's muzzle was tight, Shard unpicked a note from the hawk's ankle. It bore the emblazoned mark of his patron, for hard had long since chosen a side in the struggle for power; his stolen warship lending considerably to his prestige.
"Course set for Marienburg Captain!" called Siegfran, the first mate.
Shard held up his hand, reading quickly then let slip the tethers from his grasp, the hawk ascended back into the heavens and headed for land to rejoin its courtly masters.
"Wait," Shard ordered, eyes back on the horizon. Slipping off the glove and handing it to Monkey he slid a long gilt telescope from the breast pocket of his naval jacket, festooned as it was with medals, celebratory regalia and gold threaded filigree. It was a mockery now, of an Imperial order that was failing and that might at any time collapse completely.
"Word from our generous benefactor," he said, voice tinged with derision. "There is a change of course," Shard uttered; through the spyglass be could make out a dark pall of smoke, thick and black. His face hardened and he felt the Sigmarite sigil upon his chest burn with righteousness. Briefly, he thought about the comet crashing down upon that blighted place and what it had become as a result, questioning, and not for the first time, the will of his Lord.
"Make course for Mordheim, weigh anchor at gun range, " he ordered. "Our master has plans for us."
"It seems the dogs are rioting, " he muttered to himself out loud enough for most to hear. He would wipe that pestilent scum from the very tainted earth they stood upon. There was something in the city that his master desired, but the warring gang factions made retrieval 'complicated'. He would 'remove' that complication. A battalion of mercenary gunners laid in wait once Shard's work was done and the guns had ceased to crash and the smoke was all but spent. They would search the area for the 'artefact' his master desired. If they were the rapier incising into the city then he was the broadsword that would level it.
"Once in range," he ordered, snapping the telescope shut, gaze never wavering, "Fire up Smite and Hellfyre," he said with belligerent relish. "We earn our hireling gold this day!".
"A taste of sixteen guns will quell their fervour," he promised darkly, beneath bis breath. He could already smell the blood and gun smoke...
This is a Multiplayer scenario. See Chaos in the Streets multiplayer rules.
Battle On The Blood Soaked Streets...
The grim battles upon the cold stone streets of Mordheim are fought of a many-splintered volition. Wyrdstone, the precious mineral that draws hapless adventurers and madmen alike is a seductive flame that lures these eager moths to their own destruction but there is more at stake here than the mere acquisition of treasure. Power is the desire that rules the hearts of all selfish men and power is obtained through the earth, the staking of territory, alliances forged and lost, these are the things that influence the balance of power in the dark city.
Often warbands of a similar mind or creed will band together to assert their dominance, their stake on the disputed territories of the city, usually where the bounty is at its greatest; Middenheimers with Middenheimers, Reiklanders with Reiklanders, warbands of brothers united in the destruction of their enemies. These 'hordes' as they are known, take to tbe streets to purge would-be usurpers of their power and territory. only for their rivals to reciprocate with their own allegiances, when blood and heritage draws warriors together and the desire of a common goal bonds them rather than some uneasy pact.
These are battles akin to that on the fields of war due to the sheer numbers of warriors involved in the carnage. They are curiously honourable affairs where the master of the horde, the leader, challenges a rival for the right to the disputed territories. These are bloody and fierce battles, a feud or some deep grudge fuelling anger and hate, unleashed in a boiling cauldron of violence and death...
- The Horde Rule, an academic treatise by the Master Scribe of Altdorf, Nicodemus.
fighter horde battles in Mordheim
Inspired by the graphic battle scenes in the movie Gangs of New York, this article presents rules for players to fight mass conflicts in Mordheim. Imagine the warriors meet at a pre-determined time and place; possibly a large square or open plaza and fight it out for the right to control a territory.
The rules presented here are more of a guide with a few added special rules to represent the unique nature of the conflict. I would encourage players to utilise them as part of a large campaign that might present a fitting finale or add to the campaign narrative. The rules are slightly different to that of multiplayer games as described in the excellent Chaos on the Streets (p.26 Mordheim Annual) as the warbands are allied together because of their race or homeland, and as such uneasy allegiances are not forged or broken.
When players wish to fight a horde battle or a gathering, the following guidelines are recommended:
- Use three to six warbands of exactly the same race and creed. These will be standard warbands with their own Captains, Heroes, Henchmen, etc. Therefore Reiklanders will only fight with other Reiklanders, Possessed, with other Possessed and so on. There are two ways to form a gathering. Firstly, players may simply ally their warbands together (usually as part of a campaign setting) or for one-off battles players may simply wish to generate three to six warbands of the same type and fight it out against anotl1er opponent.
- Hired Swords and Dramatis Personae are permitted but should be used sparingly, this is meant to be a blood-debt or vengeance pact after all!
- The fighting hordes have been drawn into this mass battle united by their anger and hatred against their enemy. At the start of any gathering, roll a D6 on the table below to discover how this bitter enmity manifests itself. These rules apply to all warriors on both sides.
|Grudge: Although bearing a dark and long standing grudge, this has no effect upon the warriors who will fight as normal.
|Hated foes: Both hordes are affected by the rules for Hatred towards each other.
|Battle fever: Both hordes are affected by the rules for frenzy.
|Insane rage: Both hordes will always charge if possible and may reroll all missed rolls to hit in close combat.
|No surrender: Neither warband makes any Rout tests. They will fight to the death.
|Give no mercy: Both hordes add + 1 to Injury rolls.
Note: If using these rules as part of a campaign then these psychological effects will only apply for the gathering. Warbands fighting against Reiklanders for example and suffering from frenzy will not be affected by frenzy against Reiklanders in other battles.
- Each horde must be led by a Horde Leader, the individual who is strong enough to bind the warbands together and forge an alliance. The Horde Leader is the warband Captain with the highest Leadership. If several characters have the highest Leadership then players can decide which is the Horde Leader amongst themselves or roll for it, with the highest roll choosing. The Horde Leader's Leadership may be used by all the warbands in the gathering as well as individual warbands using their Captain's own Leadership but also counts as having the skill Battle Tongue such is his presence and importance.
- The sheer numbers of unruly warriors and the utter chaos that manifests at such battles mean they will often be bloody and battle-cramped affairs, warriors knocked down or stunned may be crushed to death before they have time to rise as fresh warriors trample them in their eagerness to get to the foe. Any warrior that is knocked down or stunned presents no obstacle to movement. Further more, other warriors will not leap over or move around them, rather if another warrior moves over a prone model the injured warrior is trampled and suffers a Strength 2 hit which could result in further injury. As more and more warriors get knocked down as the battle draws on, the street will become cluttered with these prone figures and it is entirely possible that in the course of charging an enemy, a warrior will trample over several other warriors.
Note: The scenario over the page is based upon a collaboration of the two street battles depicted in the movie Gangs of New York. It can be used as a template for players that wish to fight their own horde battles but do not wish to use the forces described below. Players may also wish to omit the special rules concerning the Mercenary Captain's bombardment and arrival of the Mercenary haodgunners as this again was included with the movie's narrative in mind.
The ancient rivalry between the Reikland Reavers and the Puritan Sect dates back many years. These two warbands have been at odds ever since the first of their dubious orders set foot upon the accursed soil of Mordheim. Blood debts are outstanding, revenge pacts still owing and a raging scroll of dark deeds and threatened recompense exists staked to the rotten beam of the gibbet in Executioner's Square. Fitting then that these two bitter enemies should meet again at that very place to battle for supremacy of this part of the city... Little do they realise however that the Rogue Imperial warship, the Irrepessible, has weighed anchor and its captain means to quell their riotous ambition with a burst of cannon fire, leaving the way open to plunder whatever clandestine artefacts lie within...
The battle is fought on a 4' x 4' table. Players should take it in turns to arrange ruined buildings, temples, walls, etc, around the edges of the tables but no building should encroach more than 6" from the table edge to ensure there is a large clear area in the centre of the table for the battle to take place. In the very centre of the table there is a gibbet or statue surrounded by a low wall or wooden fence roughly 6" x 6".
Captain Helmgartt Shard means to act upon his orders to flatten the clashing warbands so the rest of his master's mercenary forces can secure the square. He is guided by the gathering smoke from fires lit in the city as a destructive preamble to the battle. The warbands will be blissfully unaware of Shard's orders but as soon as the battle reaches its seventh rurn, roll a D6 at the start of that rurn and each turn thereafter and consult the table below to discover when the Rogue Imperial forces arrive and Shard begins his cannonade.
|Imperial forces arrive
When Shard's cannonade begins, he fires into the very heart of the battle. D6+3 'mortar shots' strike the battlefield. Players roll a D6 each with the highest roll placing the first mortar blast and then take it in turns to place further mortar blasts on the field (or if you have an independent arbitrator they will place all the templates). Once placed, roll a Scatter dice for each blast, a 'hit' indicates the blast hits that precise position, otherwise move the template D6 inches in the direction of the arrow rolled. Each blast has a diameter of 2" (use the Mortar template from Warhammer) and causes a Strength 3 hit against a model under the template and a Strength 6 hit against the model directly under the centre of the blast. All these attacks have an extra -1 save modifier.
The rogue forces are a small regiment of sixteen handgunners ordered to mop up any survivors or persistent rioters and then search the square for the artefact. The handgunners move in from the east table edge (players should agree a direction for north at the start of the battle) and are placed 8" in from the table edge but cannot move on the turn they arrive but are able to shoot immediately. Players take it in turns to control the handgunners, dicing off to see who controls them first and the Imperial soldiers fit into the turn sequence before both players have their turns. The handgunners are a regimented formation and so each one must remain within 1" of another at all times, moving closer to do so if necessary. Furthermore, they do not block line of sight for their comrades as they are well drilled at shooting in ranks. In order to maintain a steady rate of fire, only half of the handgunners fire each turn, allowing the remainder to shoot in the following turn.
Each player rolls a D6, with the highest roll setting his warband up first. Warbands may be set up within 18" of the table edge but no closer than 12" to the east or west edges to ensure they cannot set up models within buildings.
Two Dramatis Personae have been pregenerated to represent the Horde Masters for this scenario.
Dirk 'Cleaver' Halstadt
Dirk is a Reikland Captain and the Horde Master of the Reavers. He is a battle-hardened man, losing an eye in a battle with his archnemesis - the Witch Hunter, Priest Valnor, Horde Master of the Puritan Sect. He now sports a glass replacement with a black Reikland eagle in lieu of a pupil. Dirk is uncompromising, fierce and merciless. He is not without honour though and will seldom stab a 'worthy adversary' in the back, preferring to humble his enemies face-to-face and witness the fear in their eyes as he drives his blade deep.
Weapons/armour: Cleaver (counts as an axe but with a + 1 Strength modifier), sword, helmet.
Skills: Step aside, combat master, resilient, fearsome.
Destiny: Dirk is fated to meet his erstwhile enemy, Priest Valnor, in battle. As such Dirk has a special save of 2+ if he is reduced to his last wound. Dirk somehow manages to avoid the killing blow or dodge the fatal strike as his opponent slips. Once he is in combat with Valnor, any attacks from the Priest ignore Dirk's special save.
An honourable, utterly devout man, Priest Valnor is the Horde Master of the Puritan Sect. His code is black and white, he will suffer no abomination nor would-be infiltrator of what he believes is the property and right of Sigmar. His arch-nemesis is Dirk 'Cleaver' Halstadt. The two have fought on many occasions, their last encounter leaving Dirk without an eye...
Weapons/armour: Blessed warhammer (also counts as a Holy Relic), sword, light armour, holy tome.
Skills: Mighty Blow, Strike to Injure.
Prayers: The Hammer of Sigmar, Armour of Righteousness.
Destiny: Valnor is fated to meet his erstwhile enemy, Dirk 'Cleaver' Halstadt, in battle. As such Valnor has a special save of 2+ if he is reduced to his last wound. Valnor somehow manages to avoid the killing blow or dodge the fatal strike as his opponent slips. Once he is in combat with Dirk, any attacks from him ignore Valnor's special save.
starting the game
Each player rolls a D6 - with the highest roll starting the first turn.
ending the game
The game ends when either Dirk or Valnor is taken out of action - at which point the victorious warband assumes control of Executioner's Square. Neither warband will rout until the Imperial bombardment begins at which point if they have lost enough warriors (add up the respective warbands collectively) they must make a Rout test. Note that a failed rout test will result in a mass retreat, ie, all the warbands horded together will rout. The game also ends when a warband routs.
- +1 Survives. If a fighter survives the battle then 1 Experience point is earned. Even fighters who are wounded and taken Out of Action receive experience for taking part.
- +1 Winning Leaders. The leader of the winning side earns an extra 2 Experience points.
- +1 Per Enemy Out of Action. A fighter earns 1 Experience point for each opposing fighter he takes down or out during the battle.
- +2 Horde Leader Out of Action. Any Hero earns +2 Experience for putting the Horde Leader Out of Action.
Author's note: Although the aftermath of the battle is not represented here, ie, the handgunners searching the ruins for the artefact, there is no reason why players can't devise a follow-up scenario that tells this 'story' and who knows, maybe there will be a follow-up scenario to this effect...
The rules for horde battles are intended to be used in campaigns as well as being an exciting one-off battle as a slight diversion from the usual Mordheim rules. I would encourage players to use the above rules as a guide and devise their own inter-campaign narratives to include these large battles. The rules were devised with this proviso in mind and I was also keen to explore the idea of mass conflicts in Mordheim involving 40 to 60 models each side.
Finally, as well as the scenario presented above, there a few ideas that follow on other scenarios that players can develop for horde battles.
storn the bastion
A gathering of warbands is holed up in an ancient ruined tower in the centre of Mordheim. As the sun dips below the brooding clouds, a great roar erupts from the encroaching darkness as a rival gathering descends upon the bastion intent on sacking it...
Essentially, this is a kind of siege battle but without stout defences. The walls will have holes in them and the defenders will probably only have rubble to throw at their enemies, while the attackers will make use of grappling irons and perhaps a few ladders to storm the walls. Victory would go to the player with the most models within the boundary of the walls at the end of a pre-determined turn limit. In a campaign the tower could be a special objective, containing a wyrdstone mine, ancient circle or treasure vault.
crossing the bridge
Two warband hordes meet across a mighty river that runs through the city filled with all manner of taint and effluence. The battlefield is treacherous - with the sheer press of bodies upon the massive bridge that spans the river warriors can easily lose their footing or be pitched into the watery gloom beneath...
This battle presents a large hazard that the hordes will battle over. Rules could be included to represent players being pushed over the edge of the bridge and the effects of the tainted water on them after the battle (some kind of Special Injury table, maybe they get washed down river or develop a Chaos mutation - this would be particularly interesting in a campaign battle). There is also scope to add a special rule for disturbing a beast in the water, its flailing tentacles reaching out sporadically to ensnare unwary warriors to drag them to a watery doom.
Hopefully, these suggestions have sparked a few ideas for horde battles and their inclusion in regular games of Mordheim as part of a campaign or merely one-off battles. I also hope it has demonstrated how movies and stories can generate exciting ideas to develop your own scenarios and games with only a modicum of special rules.