For those who missed it, I previously wrote an article about Warhammer Fantasy RP 2nd Edition that included a summary of the play-by-forum campaign I’ve been running for over 2 years now. You can find part 1 here: https://thomaspking.com/2020/09/07/role-playing-warhammer-fantasy-rpg-2nd-edition/
Where we left off, the party was rushing to protect the count of Wurtbad who had been attacked in the middle of the night by skaven. Our heroes find themselves in the streets of Wurtbad with skaven rushing in.
A pair of guards who’d been sent with the count to the doctor join in the fray. The skaven are soon overwhelmed and the last flees into the dark. The heroes check in on the count and soon, Wolfram joins them. They agree that the situation is too dangerous to wait. After some quick healing and stocking up at the physician, they gather in the town square with the guards and a variety of sell-swords. With a bit of encouraging, the gathering agrees to enter to the tunnels, though many are dubious about ratmen. Our heroes meet the captain of the guard, Eckhard, and agree to take him and a group of men into the tunnels they had previously explored while other groups enter the other tunnels. The roadwarden, Ulrich, is still out of Wurtbad and was supposed to arrive in the morning. Should he arrive, he’ll have additional roadwardens with him as backup.
Down into the tunnels they go. Since there were paths the party hadn’t checked yet, Eckhard begins sending smaller groups into other tunnels to make sure every nook and cranny has been cleared. But this slowly depletes the forces accompanying our heroes. Meanwhile, at the reservoir, the elf Imloryth takes a nasty shot to the head from skaven shooters waiting to ambush them on the other side of the ferry. He survives and gets some lucky healing from Heinz, the party’s jailer who also happens to be the only one with Healing. It takes them a while to get everyone across the ferry since it can only hold a handful at a time.
Before long, they’ve passed where the party was forced to retreat and are delving blind into danger. The first major encounter occurs when they enter a large chamber, from which they could hear deep roars. It’s a rat ogre, its pack master, and groups of skaven clan rats.
Since narratively, there are large groups of guards and mercenaries with party, I wanted to experiment with some rules to simplify groups. I didn’t want to operate a huge group of NPCs. Despite Warhammer first being a game of armies, the RPG has no rules for handling mass battles. This first encounter, I try just simplifying the normal rules. I definitely had too many combatants and could have dropped some guards and skaven (way too many guards). I was also still learning how to make good encounter maps. I tried spacing things out to force more movement, but because there were too many combatants, the battlefield became clogged pretty quickly. I learned several lessons from this encounter.
The sight of the Rat Ogre terrifies several individuals, notably, Imloryth. He remains feared for several turns, unable to do anything but attempt to shake the status effect. Some of the guards were likewise held up for a while. Each round, mercenaries join as reinforcements from the tunnels behind them.
Soon, everyone has dog-piled in the center where they engage the Rat Ogre. Despite being a true threat, it misses nearly every attack. The guards and party pick away at it while the other skaven are cleaned up. The battle ends without the good guys having suffered casualties, though several guards are wounded.
They check the room and find a booby-trapped exit in the back. Eckhard leaves some men to hold the room and care for the wounded. After some recovery, they move on. The next room has some injured guards, and some dead. There was another skirmish in here over vats of strange concoctions, foul experiments of the skaven. One cauldron still has some of its strange brew inside. Eckhard leaves more men and vows they’ll dispose of the contents after the skaven have been dealt with.
Before long, they hear fighting ahead. Skaven are in a skirmish with another group from a different tunnel. The party successfully sneaks up and ambushes the distracted skaven. They land almost all of their attacks, and Gottri scores multiple critical hits, so I assign his leftover damage to another target (he’s using an axe anyway which is easy to make wide cleaves with). Since the ambush was so successful, there’s no reason to draw out a combat with a new map just to clean up a few injured and outnumbered skaven. I just narrate the slaughter and the party discovers that the group they saved was made of roadwardens. Ulrich has made it into the tunnels (they have been down a while time-wise, and it’s early dawn). He’s only slightly injured. There’s a brief dispute between Ulrich and Eckhard regarding the cauldron in the other room. Ulrich wants to destroy it now, not trusting anyone to simply watch over it. Eckhard wants to kill the skaven now before they can escape or launch a counterattack. Ulrich is outnumbered, so they move on. Some roadwardens return from scouting and a woman named Kirsa reports the way is clear. A Grey Seer they encountered has holed itself up in a large chamber with another Rat Ogre. They believe the Seer to be the leader.
The Grey Seer
And so begins the next big encounter.
I’ve done several things with this map. For one, fewer combatants on both sides. Smaller blocks for grouped units so they don’t clog the battlefield as much. More paths to move around. More cover since this battle will have ranged attackers on both sides. I had to learn the magic rules and create a Grey Seer, the sorcerous leader of the skaven. I also put together some Clan Skryer Skirmishers. I also downloaded some more assets to help fill some of the space. I’ve also further changed the rules for grouped units. It’s now more based on the Warhammer Fantasy Battles rules. Basically, because the average stats of characters at this level give them roughly a 33% chance to hit or parry or dodge, I simplified the grouped units into using D6s. A normal attack or parry succeeds on a 5+ (1/3 chance). Penalties reduce it to 6+ while bonuses can increase it to 4+. Significant bonuses might get it to 3+. And I only record hits, not total damage. Since it takes roughly 3 hits to kill a skaven, that’s how many hits it takes to kill one in a grouped unit. Guards and roadwardens are a bit tougher, so 4 hits will kill one. When a non-grouped unit hits a grouped unit, I use a die to determine roughly how many hits they score. 1D3 for average damage, 1D4 for higher damage. So far, it’s worked pretty well and makes managing the large battle a lot easier. It’s kind of a shame to work on rules I’m not likely to use again for a while. After this, we’re definitely not going to be doing large battles like this anytime soon.
Since our party has seen the Rat Ogre already (and successfully killed it), they’re no longer susceptible to being terrified. For now. As soon as the battle begins, the Gray Seer fires warp lightning at Ulrich, who is just in range, and does nasty damage while avoiding Tzeentch’s Curse (and not taking damage from his own lightning). Spell-casting in Warhammer is dangerous for the caster.
As the combatants advance and choose their targets, with Eckhard and Gottri taking the left flank to attack the skirmisher, and the roadwardens taking the right flank, Imloryth and the Grey Seer enter a long-ranged battle over the heads of everyone. Imloryth’s longbow gives him just enough range to make his 2 shots at the Seer, and he lands both for a significant amount of damage. The Seer is now Bleeding (20% chance to die each round and further critical hits become Sudden Death, killing him outright if he takes enough damage at once). The Seer moves up and launches another arc of warp lightning, now striking Imloryth. The elf’s next arrow fails to land, but the Seer soon dies from bleeding. He was able to use 2 spells before dying…
And that’s where we are, in the middle of battle. The Gray Seer is dead, but the Rat Ogre is still alive and ready to wreak havoc.