Friday, March 6, 2009

On the Edge of the Darkwood - Song of Blades and Heroes battle report

Chris and I played a warband engagement and decided to try out some new ideas for the game. Since the first time I played SBH (a week ago solo; look back a few posts - J), I got the feeling it could be used to recreate the storytelling feel of a roleplaying game, while maintaining the competitive feel of a standard wargame. It turns out I was right.

The abandoned tower at the edge of the Darkwood holds great secrets. The plains beyond lie barren and lifeless.

The Random Encounter System:

I wanted to create a simple means to allow our warbands to interact a little with the environment around them. While I was waiting for Chris, I came up with this idea - As other games have done before, designate certain markers or pieces of "searchable terrain." If a model was in base contact with the marker, it could spend one action to search and roll on the table below.

Roll 2D6:
2-4 -- nothing of interest
5-6 -- small treasure (2 VP)
7-11 - roll again:
------ 2-4 - nothing of interest
------ 5-10 - monster (roll D6)
------------ 1-4 - D3 Skeletons
------------ 5-6 - Giant Wolf
------11-12 - large treasure (4 VP)
12 --- magic item (SBH pg 19)


When a monsters were rolled, the models were place on the table. The monsters activated as a third player, so when I failed two rolls, play passed to Chris, two fails for Chris passed to the monsters, and the monsters fail passed back to me. During the monsters activation, we rolled a D3 to determine the number of quality rolls.

If a monster was in base contact with a player model, it used it's successes to attack, and if possible, to perform a powerful attack.

If a monster was one (or less) of its movement distances away from a player model, it used its first success to move into contact with the closest player model, and any remaining successes as above.

If a monster was more than one of its movement distances away from a player model, it used all of its successes to move its full distance in the direction of a scatter die until one of the two conditions above were met OR until it roamed off the table.

A Chaos Dwarf Gunner gets more than he bargained for when searching near the borders of the Darkwood.

Men from the border patrol are surprised by roaming skeletons. Perhaps stories of the tower housing a necromancer are true.

Gro-ghall uses the speed of his mount to ride through the forest and search the temple ruins. We decided that when searching the ruins, a player could roll three dice and choose the two he preferred when consulting the table. It turns out that the ruins had been well picked over by others and contained nothing of interest.


We handled treasure in a very simple manner. If a model found something of value, a marker was placed in base contact for the rest of the game. If the model was defeated in melee combat, to the victor went the spoils. If the model died from a ranged attack, the treasure stayed on the table, and any player model could use an action to pick it up. If the carrying player was alive at the end of the game, the treasure's VP were collected by the warband and added to their total.

A border soldier finds some small golden trinkets buried. The stone must have been the burial mound of an ancient warlord.

Game Highlights:

The game fought was between two opposing warbands; my Chaos Dwarf Hunting Party and Chris's Human Border Patrol Force. The idea was to defeat the opposing warband, but the five "encounter markers" provided some nice distractions, and encouraged models to move about the table.

The human patrol advances toward the river. The Chaos Dwarves have been spotted!

Hans the Steadfast demonstrates his skill at fighting the undead.

Dwarves near the lake, ready to engage the interfering humans.

An overview of the action on the plain. Notice Gro-ghall's absence. He was busy searching the ruined temple.

The human captain gives all present a hands-on lesson in swordsmanship...

... and a Chaos Dwarf Savage returns the sentiment with his warclub, taking the captain down.

In the meantime, Gro-ghall returns from the forest and heads for the battle.

However, the Savage's gruesome kill sends most of the men fleeing towards the warchief.

The border soldiers try to crowd the mighty chieftan. Obviously, the death of their leader has shaken their confidence. The first model's quality roll is a dismal failure.

Finally, the remnants of the humans are driven off, leaving Gro-ghall's hunters victorious!

In closing...

I encourage all of you to try this simple approach to playing Song of Blades and Heroes. My goal is to create a map of the campaign area, and I mean localized, not the size of a continent or anything here. We could easily create a terrain guideline and a different encounter table for each locale on our campaign map. In this way, we could bring the feel of role-playing and storytelling to our table without the need for actual scenarios or a referee.

Thanks for reading,

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Thanks for this. I enjoyed it. I too am a fan of SBH, and have been meaning to post a similar battle report. I like your addition of the story telling!