Friday, November 1, 2013

Ghost Hunters Game Day

So our 5th Annual Halloween Heroscape Event was every bit of a success (in my eyes) as the previous ones.  We missed Paul, but everyone else came and we had a great afternoon of fun, fellowship, and gaming.

One of the things I like about the Halloween game is that I ask guests to bring a Halloween- or game-themed snack to share.  This year it was ghosts, of course.  But I really like to see people's creativity come out in the snack area.  This year we had banana ghosts with mandarin pumpkins.  There was a big, red, jiggly brain to eat, mummy cakes, goblins, and even edible Heroscape figures (candy ghosts on Oreo cookies...yum).  Pat brought a puking pumpkin again this year, too.

The afternoon began with a few snacks and a lot of conversation.  The Halloween Event always draws a few more people that our regular games and there were some people who hadn't seen each other in a while, so it was a good opportunity to reconnect with friends. Some people were just hungry and like to talk.  

Then the game began...

The first phase pitted all the Ghost Hunters (4 players) against the Shades of Bleakwoode (1 player).  The heroes came through the the first phase unscathed and then moved on to phase two.

In the second phase of the game, the Ghost Hunters split up to search four separate rooms.  Each Ghost Hunter player was pitted against a ghost player.  Tina's Eladrin heroes faced Hypnotic Spirits in the library and defeated them earning Revenant's Tome as a reward.  Solomon and Ana Karithon faced JP's Lurking Shadows in the hall.

Valguard and his viking companions under Anthony's control fought Charles' Oathbreakers in the armory.  Valguard was the only survivor, earning a Brooch of Shielding in return.  When the third phase began and the Caller in Darkness emerged, however, Valguard was in such shock from the battle with the Oathbreakers that he locked the door to the armory and hid for a few turns.  Eventually his viking courage returned and he reentered the battle fighting bravely until he met his end.

In the rotunda, rookie player Jesse (with the helpful coaching of Benjamin) used her Phantom Knights to defeat Roheryn Dragonspine and her adventuring friends.

One of the things I love about our Halloween game is that I develop scenarios that create multiple simultaneous games.  It gets more people playing more often, keeps the game moving along faster, and creates a wonderfully cacophonous controlled chaos that I love to watch.

Younger players (who weren't playing Heroscape) were playing outside and occasionally came in for a little snack.

Phase three brought all the rooms together into one.  All the rooms which had been separate in order to better facilitate ease of play for the players, were connected together, and the surviving players had access to the entire house for the last battle against the Caller in Darkness.

Eventually the Caller in Darkness was defeated and the remaining ghosts fled from the house.  Faron Deepshadow, under Tina's control struck the final blow winning the game for the Ghost Hunters.

It made Tina very happy to be the only surviving Ghost Hunter player and to win the game for her team.

It was a great afternoon, and I think everyone had a lot of fun.  I know I did.

Until next time, happy heroscaping, everybody.

Friday, October 25, 2013

An Unexpected Party

Blogger's Note: This is the third and final episode of the "Ghost Hunters" chapter of "The Deathly Hallows" before our game.  Tomorrow we write the next chapter together by playing the game.  Read on and enjoy.  Perhaps I'll see you tomorrow in the house of Zarek Ral.

        Solomon Rayne and Ana Karithon made their way through town to the gate at the bottom of the hill and the path beyond it that led up the hill to the house of the wizard Zarek Ral. 

        The left gate swung slightly and somewhat precariously on a single hinge near its bottom.  It creaked as it rocked slowly back and forth.  The right gate stood wide open. 

        The last time Solomon had passed through these gates, they had been locked tightly with a guard posted just inside them.  The guard decided to allow passage or not.  Now, however, the elaborate gate was unmanned and unlocked.

        “Must have taken a lot to make Ral leave this place,” said Ana as they stepped through the gate.

        Solomon did not acknowledge her.  He was carefully scrutinizing the trees along the path ahead.  He motioned for Ana to stop, and she halted immediately.  The path up to the house began to curve up and around the hill several yards ahead.  Solomon and Ana stood silently as Solomon looked and listened for any sign of trouble along the path.  After a few moments, he motioned to Ana to move ahead, and the two of them began to walk slowly towards the house.

        Neither Solomon nor Ana spoke.  Both understood the seriousness of the task they were undertaking and the danger that might jump out at them at any moment.  Both of them stepped softly and lightly on the path so that their footsteps could not be heard over a great distance.  Slowly, carefully, the two of them advanced up the hill, toward the house.

        Down in the village, the sounds of music and laughter could still be heard coming from the direction of the inn which Solomon and Ana had left a few hours before.  More than once Solomon signaled to Ana to stop because the sounds from the village broke his concentration and he needed to regain his focus before proceeding onward. 

        Once, before they started forward again, Ana heard him mutter, “Idiots,” under his breath.  Then they began again.

        The high-pitched creaking of the broken gate could also be heard all the way up to the house.  It was a nearly constant cadence…a short, high creak, followed by a long, low creak.  Only once had the pattern varied as far as Ana could tell.  The creaking gate only amplified the anxiety she felt as the two of them made their way through the trees, in the dark, up to the haunted house on the hill.

        When they had almost reached the courtyard of the house where the trees began to thin and the path began to level out, Solomon again suddenly motioned for Ana to stop.

        “We’re being followed,” he whispered to her.

        “The Shadowfell?” Ana whispered back.

        “No.  They followed us from the village.”

        “Who followed us?”

        “Eladrin, I’d guess.”  Solomon’s voice was suddenly full and loud.  He turned around, looking back down the path.

        Several yards behind, almost out of sight around a corner of the path, two hooded figures emerged from the edge of the woods onto the path.

         Ana drew her staff, but Solomon put his hand on hers and shook his head.

        The two hooded figures glanced at each other and then began walking cautiously toward Solomon and Ana.  Their footsteps made no sound at all.  As they drew closer Solomon and Ana could see that one of them was taller than the other and wore a heavy, dark green cloak.  He had a long sword at his side and a bow hanging across his back.  The other wore a light grey cloak, carried a dagger on his belt, and held a bow in his hand.

        “I don’t care much for being followed, gentlemen.  State you business.”

        “Our apologies, Mr. Rayne, but we weren’t sure of your intentions here,” replied the figure in the green cloak, apparently the leader of the pair.  “After all you did work for Zarek Ral.”

        Solomon took a step forward and interrupted forcefully, “I don’t work for wizards.”

        The green-cloaked figure, unbothered by Solomon’s aggressive response, nodded slightly.

        “As you say,” he replied.

        “And I said, ‘State your business.’”

        The green-cloaked figure nodded slightly again.

        “I am Faron.  This is my brother, Ordon.  We, like you, have devoted our lives to the defense of the mortal realm against the forces of the Shadowfell.  We are here to join you on your quest.”

        “Thanks, but no thanks.  I work alone.”


        “Present company excepted.”

         “Thanks,” Ana smirked. 

        “We understand your reluctance, but…”  Faron cut his statement short and stood listening for a moment.  “I believe we are about to have company.”

        Instinctively the four slid off the path to hide in the edges of the woods, Solomon and Ana to one side, Faron and Ordon to the other.  Both pairs crouched motionless, listening carefully.

        The noise of the inn seemed to be closer now than it had been before.  In fact, the sounds seemed to be getting closer.  Voices and laughter could be heard on the lower path.

        “Six…maybe seven,” Solomon whispered to Ana.  “Human…for the most part.  Some of them are louder than the others.”

        The glow of torches began to appear on the path just below them.  Then a few moments after that, they could see torches being carried by six or seven people walking up the path.  They spoke loudly, laughing and joking, and lit up the night with their torches.  Neither Solomon and Ana nor Faron and Ordon had brought torches.

        “Idiots,” Solomon groused.

        When the loud group was almost to them, Solomon motioned silently to Faron and Ordon then drew his crossbow.

        “I can’t even see them across the path, how do you expect them to see that?” Ana asked.

        “They’re Eladrin,” Solomon replied.

        When the group was directly between Solomon and Faron, Solomon said, “Get ready,” to Ana.  He put up three fingers, then two, then one, then he closed his fist.  Instantly Solomon and Ana jumped out into the path, weapons raised.  Faron and Ordon did the same, Faron’s sword at the ready…Ordon’s bow drawn.

        Several of the group in the path began to reach for their weapons.

        “Uh uh…I wouldn’t,” Solomon warned.

        “There’re more of us than there are of you,” said a man in the front.  He was wearing an animal skin as a cloak and a helmet with horns on it.  He had a grisly face, and the tone of his voice hinted at the fact that he was looking for a fight and he wasn’t too particular about who was on the other side.

        “I assure you,” Faron added, “you would not get your sword drawn in time.”

        The man glanced over at Faron.

        “We mean you no harm,” said a voice from the back of the group.  It was a Dragonborn female who spoke.  She moved toward Solomon and spoke again, “My name is Roheryn.  My brother Rhogar took a job for the wizard who lived in this house, but he has not been seen since.  My friends and I are here to find some clue about where he is or what has happened to him.”

        “Not me,” said a short, bearded man.  “I’m here to hunt ghosts!”

        “You’re that bunch that was giving the serving girl such a hard time at the inn,” said Ana.

        “Please,” Roheryn pleaded, “We just met them at the inn.  They said that they were coming up here anyway so we came together.  I just want to know what happened to my brother.”

        “Your brother’s dead,” said Solomon coolly.

        For a moment, the only sound was the crackling of the torches.

        “Dead?” she said.

        “I’m afraid so,” said Ana.


        “The Shadowfell,” Solomon answered.  He lowered his crossbow.  Ana, Faron, and Ordon followed suit.  “Your brother…”  Solomon paused for moment and then continued, “fought valiantly.”

        Roheryn looked up at the house looming before them.  The flickering light revealed a mix of sorrow and hatred on her face. 

        “I’m so sorry,” Ana added.

        When Roheryn spoke again, her voice was unwavering and stern.  “I’m going up there.  I don’t care if it’s a wizard or some horrible ghostly monster.  I don’t care.  I’m going up there.”

        Solomon glanced around at the group gathered along the path, studying each of them in turn.  He looked back toward Ana, who nodded slightly.

        “Okay look,” he began, “I normally work alone, but I’ve learned recently that sometimes having a little help can be…good.  But…if you’re going up there to that house, then you’re doing it my way.  And if any of you idiots step out of line and put my life in danger, I’ll put you down myself.  Understand?”

        “I don’t take orders from anyone,” shouted the man with the animal skin cloak.

        “Well that’s just fine.  Then you’re free to leave.  Now.  Cause if you’re not doing what I tell you to, you’re not going up there.”

        The other man growled lowly.

        “Valguard, let it be,” said his female companion.  “That’s Solomon Rayne.  Let’s just do what he says.  He knows about ghosts and stuff.  Maybe he can help.”

        Valguard looked back at Solomon.  “Fine.  We’ll do it your way.”

        “Good,” Solomon replied. “Then the first thing we’re need to do is put out those torches.  We can only hope that they haven’t noticed them yet.”

        “That who hasn’t noticed them?” Valguard asked.

        “Whatever’s inhabiting that house,” Roheryn said softly.

        “Put them out.  Right now.”

Blogger's Note: Here's a look at a few of the custom cards we'll be using tomorrow:

The figures for the two Eladrin brothers who followed Solomon and Ana are custom figures made from D&D figures.  Ordon and Faron are a Greycloak Ranger and a Deepshadow Elf respectively.  I haven't had time to make full-fledged Heroscape cards for them yet, so they have temporary testing cards to use for tomorrow.  

Roheryn (below) is a D&D Female Dragonborn Rogue.  She's a custom I made some time ago, so she has a Heroscpe card made.  She's not terribly exciting, but she's also not terribly expensive.

As for the ghosts that the brave adventurers will'll have to wait until the game begins to find out what ghostly spirits the Caller in Darkness has called to the house of Zarek Ral.

Happy Heroscaping.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Deathly Hallows: Innkeeper's Tale

Blogger's Note:  Here's the next episode of "The Deathly Hallows".  Read on, and enjoy.

        “What can I get ya, stranger?”


        “No, I mean to drink…to eat.  What can I get ya?”

        “I don’t want a drink, and I’m not hungry.  I want information.”

        “Look, friend, this here’s an inn.  We sell food and mead.  If you don’t want…”

        “We’ll take two glasses of mead,” a woman’s voice interrupted.  She placed two large coins onto the bar. 

        “Well, alright then,” replied the innkeeper, and he turned to fill two mugs with mead.

        The woman was tall and fair-skinned.  Not even the hood of her purple robe could completely hide her long locks of bright red hair.  Though her young face bore the unmistakable signs of someone whose experience stretched far beyond her age, her eyes were bright.  There was an aura of innocence and purity about her, making her seem somewhat out of place at the bar of this inn.

        A loud crash followed by an eruption of laughter from the far side of the room startled the woman and she turned to find the source of the noise. 

        The inn was filled with people, and the noise of people eating and drinking almost filled the room.  At a table on the far side, however, three men and a woman dressed in light armor were laughing louder than all the rest.  A serving girl was picking up bowls and utensils off the floor from beside their table.  The floor beside her was covered with stew, and a loaf of bread lay in the middle of it.

        “Here, let me help you with that,” said one of the men.

        He leaned down from his seat, picked up the loaf of bread, and slammed it down onto the serving girl’s tray.  The tray crashed to the ground again and the table erupted with laughter again.  One of the men spit out a mouthful of mead onto the table.

        “Oh, I’m sorry,” laughed the man, “clumsy you.”

        As the serving girl leaned over to pick up the bowls and utensils a second time, the man made a gesture towards her, and the table exploded with laughter again.  They pounded the table with their fists as they laughed.

        “Disgusting,” said the woman at the bar.  She turned back to her companion, a rough and seasoned man in a dark green cloak.  His face bore the scars of many battles…some of them fresh. 

        “What are we doing here, Solomon?  The house is deserted.  The wizard is gone,” the woman said.

        “I need to know,” her companion replied.

        “You need to know what?”

        “Here you go,” said the innkeeper as two full mugs of mead thumped down onto the bar.  “Now, is there anything else I can get ya?”

        “Information,” said Solomon Rayne curtly.

        The innkeeper’s face turned somewhat sour, mirroring Solomon’s curtness.

        “We came to see the wizard,” the woman interjected quickly trying to lighten the mood, “who lives up on the hill, but his house seems to be deserted.  We were supposed to come back to…”

        Solomon shot the woman a quick but stern look and she stopped talking immediately.

        “Zarek Ral?  He’s gone,” the innkeeper replied to her.

        “Do you know when he’ll return?”

        “Don’t think he’s gonna.  Took a whole cart-load of stuff with him when he left…books and trinkets and such.  I don’t mind tellin’ ya, it seemed like he was real nervous, too.  He sure left in a big hurry, after all.  Didn’t tell anybody he was going, either.  Just one day, he shows up in town, picks up some supplies, food and such, and heads off.  That was about three months ago.  My niece, she worked up there for Ral, cooking and cleaning and such.  She was there the day he left.  She said she heard him say something about a shadow falling or something like that.”

        Solomon and the woman shared a look of knowledge and concern with each other, though the innkeeper didn’t seem to notice.

        “I don’t really understand that wizard stuff, you know.  Anyway, he packed up a bunch of his stuff and headed out the door, and old Zarek Ral hasn’t been seen here since.  Just left my niece high and dry without a job, without pay, and without no notice.  That’s no way to treat people who work for ya, I’ll tell you that.  She’s got them kids to feed, and she’s had a hard time doing it these past three months.  Guess I can’t fault that man for leaving, though.”

        “Why not,” said Solomon.  He was intensely focused on the innkeeper’s story now.

        “Well, ‘cause of the haunting, of course.”

        “The haunting?” asked the woman.

        “Sure…the place is haunted now.  Probably why he left in the first place.  I don’t mind tellin’ ya that I couldn’t stay in a house that’s haunted like that one is…don’t care how nice it is.  No way.  All those ghosts floatin’ around in there.  No thanks.” 

        The innkeeper leaned in a closer to Solomon and his companion, and lowered his voice.  “Sure has been good for business, though, I don’t mind tellin’ ya.”

        “What do you mean?” the woman asked.

        “Don’t get me wrong.  I feel bad that Ral got chased out of his home by them ghosts, but ever since people found out that the wizard’s house is haunted, people been coming from all around to check it out….wanting to see a ghost or maybe find some magical relic or something he left behind.  People been streaming through here to go up to that house.”  The innkeeper nodded toward the table where the serving girl was now mopping up the stew off the floor.  The table’s occupants were still laughing loudly.

        “Idiots,” declared Solomon.  “They have no idea what they’re dealing with.”

        “Oh, you’ll get no argument from me on that, friend.  Like I said, I wouldn’t go near that house.  Some folks that have gone up to that house don’t come back the same, and some of ‘em don’t come back at all.  No, sir, I don’t mind tellin’ ya, I’m staying right here, thank you very much.  But I don’t mind the business all them ghost hunters bring in.  They gotta eat, you know, and most of ‘em gotta drink a whole lotta mead to get up the nerve to go up to that house.  No, sir, you won’t catch me sneakin’ a peak up there at that house, but I sure do like the business they bring my way.  My family’s gotta eat, too, ya know.”

        Suddenly a shout came from the kitchen.  The innkeeper excused himself and disappeared behind the door.  The red-headed woman watched Solomon as he reviewed the innkeeper’s tale in this mind.  After a few moments, Solomon turned to his companion.

        “We have to go up there, Ana.”

        “I figured you say that,” she replied.

        “Ral knew about the Deathly Hallows.  If there’s anything in that house…”

        “I know.  We can’t let them find the Hallows.”

        After a few moments of thought, Solomon said, “We need to prepare.  If there’s anything in that house that will lead us to the Hallows or the wizard, we need to find it before they do.”

        Ana nodded her agreement, and the two headed out the door, their mugs of mead remaining untouched on the bar.

        Laughter erupted from the table on the far side of the room again.  The three men and their female cohort were pounding their fists on the table, again, totally unaware that Solomon Rayne and Ana Karithon had even been in the inn. 

         A few tables away over, however, two hooded figures sat silently in a shadowy corner.  There were no dirty plates or mugs on their table…no sign they had eaten anything at all.  They watched as Solomon and Ana left the inn, then turned to each other and nodded.

Blogger's Note: Below are pictures of the board on which we'll be playing.  They are rooms inside the wizard Zarek Ral's house.

The five rooms in which the game takes place are the Entry, the Rotunda, the Library, the Hall, and the Armory.  Below are pictures of the Hall, the Library, and the Rotunda:

In this game, the Lava Field tiles aren't Lava Field, but serve as a red carpet running through the house.  Charles and I came up with that one together while sitting in Chuck E. Cheese's at Liam's birthday party.

Each of the rooms will be separated (like they are in the pictures) at the beginning of the game to better facilitate several simultaneous one-on-one games, but when it's time for the Ghost Hunters to face the Caller in Darkness, all the rooms will be connected together to form one single board.

Don't forget to check back next Friday for the last episode before the game itself.

Until then, happy Heroscaping.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Deathly Hallows: Caller in Darkness

Blogger's Note: This is the sixth episode of "The Deathly Hallows".  It picks up the story we began for the Halloween game in 2011 after that game.  Read on, and enjoy...

        The air was hot and stale.

        Particles of crumbling stone, decaying wood, and rotting flesh mixed with ash floated upward and in and out of the large open windows which lined the hall.  Above, a pale blue light filtered in through the windows and the floating debris creating shadows within shadows.  Below, pieces of broken bone were scattered across the cold, rough, stone floor, drifting into small piles along the edges by the walls.

        A thick, heavy silence lay over the hall.

        At the far end of the hall two long, blackened banners hung from the wall.  There was some kind of symbol at the center of each banner, but both were too badly decayed to be able to identify it.  Between the two banners, a large throne stood on the dais.  It alone was perfectly smooth and polished stonework, untouched by the persistent decay that permeated the hall.

        On the throne a dark, shadowed figure sat motionless, deep in thought, and silent as the grave.

        After a few moments, the hall began to echo faintly as with the sound of a hundred distant, indistinguishable whispers.  A shadow slid quickly across the floor toward the dais, and as it did so, the whispers grew closer and closer.  When the shadow reached the steps of the dais, it halted, and the whispers trailed off.

        “Reveal,” said a voice from the throne.

        Immediately the whispers began again and above the shadow before the dais a ghostly and ghastly figure appeared.  Its entire form was a translucent, swirling mass of perpetual motion.  Faces appeared, moved across the surface of the figure, and then disappeared again.  Each face was distorted and seemed to be crying out…seemed to be trying to get out…but no screams could be heard and no face ever escaped the swirling form.

        “I am the Caller in Darkness, my Lord, as you commanded.” 

        The swirling figure’s voice was a coalescence of many voices speaking at once, and as it spoke, it bowed its swirling heads before the dark one seated on the throne.  The whispers trailed off again.

        “Nerull has failed me.  He did not protect the Hallow, and now it is gone.”

        “Nerull is a fool,” the voices echoed.

        “Yes, he was.”

        The shadowy figure glanced at a small pile of ash and bone beside the Caller in Darkness.  The hall erupted again with the echo of a hundred whispers, and then was silent once more.

        “I can no longer sense the Hallow.  Someone is protecting it…keeping it hidden from.  This requires powerful magic.”

        “A wizard, my lord?”

        “Undoubtedly.  I warned Nerull not to underestimate them.  I told him that not all would have forgotten, and now his incompetence has lost me the Hallow and my doorway into the mortal realm.”

        The shadowy figure stared past the Caller in Darkness and did not speak.

        The Caller in Darkness waited silently for his master to continue.  The faces moving in and out and across the surface of his form began to move and swirl faster and faster as he waited.  Many of them glanced down at the remains of Nerull as they passed above them, screaming in terror without uttering a sound.

        After a few moments, the one seated on the throne continued, “Nerull allowed a group of men and elves to get to the Deathly Hallow before its power could be fully harnessed and the doorway between our worlds could be opened.”

        “Do you wish me to bring these men to you, my lord?”

        “No, they are nothing.  The wizard is the danger here.  Find me the wizard who sent them to that graveyard.  Find me the wizard who knew about the Deathly Hallow.  Find me the wizard who is now undoubtedly hiding it from me.”

        “Yes, my lord.”

        “Find where he lives, learn all that he knows, discover all his secrets, then bring him to me.  I want that wizard.  Do you understand?”

        “My lord, it will be done as you command.”  The Caller in Darkness bowed before the one seated on the throne.

        “Do…not…fail…me,” the shadowy figure said slowly and carefully.

        Several of the faces swirling through the Caller in Darkness looked at the pile of bone and ash, and the sound of a hundred whispers sprang up in the hall again, and just as quickly as they had come, the whispers died away.

        “I will not, my lord.”

        The Caller in Darkness bowed again and began to back away.  The Caller in Darkness turned away from the shadowy figure on the throne, and the hall again echoed with whispers.  As the Caller in Darkness faded again into shadow and glided back across the hall, its many faces stared transfixed at the dark figure on the throne and screamed in terror without ever uttering a sound.

Blogger's Note: Caller in Darkness will figure prominently in our game on October 26th.  It is a Dungeons and Dragons figure that's both very creepy and very cool.  Here's his Heroscape card for your preview.

Blogger's Note: Log on again next Friday for the next episode of "The Deathly Hallows".



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gladiators of the Athasien Arena

As I mentioned in my post about the StarCraft-themed Space Marines, a number of years ago, before the first Aquilla-allied figure hit the market even, my son Benjamin and I created a Valkyrie named Wyndar to be the General for some custom figures we were introducing to the game.

Wyndar called the desert home and was a home for a number of Mage Knight figures that we were customizing for Heroscape play.  We were including figures like pirates, assassins, and various other sorts of creatures.

On Labor Day this year, I had some friends over to play an arena game.  The arena I build was called the Athasien Arena.  It's an arena that belongs to Wyndar.  Here's what the board looked like:

The arena board concept originally came from a post on the original Heroscape website operated by Hasbro (which has since been taken down, of course).  It was called "Taelord's Coliseum" though I modified it somewhat, of course.  It's a good basic scenario that doesn't take that long to play when you need a nice solid game that doesn't last too long.
We had a great game and a great afternoon of fun, fellowship, and combat in the arena.
Here was the setup for the game and the special rules of play:
The Valkyrie Wyndar, Scourge of the Wastelands, Lord of Jutangaard, Master of the Noatun, and Archkyrie of Elswin, is a cruel and insatiable general.  Wyndar has an unquenchable thirst for blood, sweat, and tears, and he encourages his subjects and his armies to savor the same.

Wyndar has ordered his armies to wound and capture enemy combatants when they can, and to return these prisoners across the desert to the Athasien Arena.  There, their wounds will be treated and they will be prepared by the trainers to be gladiators…to fight and suffer…to kill and be killed on the sands of the arena.  Occasionally, Wyndar will even compel one of his own soldiers to fight in the arena, ether to punish him or to punish the others who are placed in the arena with him.

A fight in the Athasien Arena is a tiresome and bloody ordeal.  Beasts are released into the arena with the gladiators to add an element of unpredictability , and the crowds which gather to watch the games reflect their master’s unquenchable thirst for bloody combat.  If a gladiator displeases the crowd they will turn on him, possibly even attacking him from the stands, and if the crowd feels that a gladiator has become too badly wounded to be entertaining, they may decide to execute him immediately.

The game begins with eighteen heroes and ends when only six remain.  Wyndar keeps the gladiators fighting by promising them freedom if they perform well in the arena…and if they survive it.  The better you are at killing, the sooner you can earn your freedom from the Athasien Arena.  There are ways for gladiators to gain advantages in the games, however, provided you can provide enough incentive for others to help you, and even the favor of raucous crowd can be swayed…for the right price.

The Athasien Arena is a hostile and suffocating place.  Death in the arena will bring release from captivity and the games, but it is an excruciatingly painful path. 

In the Athasien Arena, it is never a good day to die.

Special Rules of Play:
Piles of Corpses.  When a figure is destroyed, replace it with a hexagonal Corpse Marker.  Spaces with a Corpse Marker on them add one level of elevation for each Corpse Marker on it.
Wyndar’s Ruling.  If a hero figure receives wounds and has only one life remaining, the crowd will vote to see if that hero may continue in the game.  The host rolls 10 Wyndar Valkyrie Dice.  If you roll four or less skulls, the figure remains on the board.  If five or more skulls are rolled, the hero is destroyed.  If three or more Wyndar symbols are rolled, the figure remains no matter how many skulls are rolled.
Crowd Attack.  When a player moves his or her figure moves into the Crowd area, he or she must immediately roll a 20-sided.  If the player rolls a 15 or higher, the crowd does nothing.  If the player rolls a 1-14, the host attacks that figure with a nearby Squad.  When a player moves a figure already in the Crowd area, if the figure ends its move in the Crowd area, that player must also roll the 20-sided die for Crowd Attack.  The player who successfully bribes the Crowd is never attacked by the Crowd (see below).
Crowd Approval Rating.  At the end of each round, each player except the player who successfully bribed the Crowd (see below) must roll the 20-sided die.  The player who rolls the lowest will receive sniper shots.  Sniper shots are taken one at a time for each of that player’s heroes.  The host rolls the 20-sided die.  If he or she rolls a 19 or higher, that hero is destroyed.
Releasing the Animals.  At the end of the first round, after sniping shots have been taken, a squad of animals is released into the arena.  Control of squad of animals is determined by Player Bribes (see below).  When a player takes control of a squad of animals, he or she may immediately take a turn with them.  At the end of the second round, after sniping shots have been taken, and the first squad of animals released has taken a turn (if possible), another squad of animals is released.  A third squad of animals is released after the third round in the same manner (first squad, second squad, then third squad).  After the fourth round, continue taken turns with the squads of animals in the appropriate order (if possible).  Order Markers can never be placed on the animal’s Army Card, but they can defend themselves if attacked.
Player Bribes. Before drafting begins, each player fills out a “Gold Distribution Sheet.”  Players may distribute 100 gold pieces in any amounts to any and all of the following individuals or group:
  • Gladiator Trainer
  • High Priest of Dagmar
  • Crowd
  • Animal Trainer
Players may not distribute more than 100 gold pieces in total.  Here's a copy of the sheet I gave out:
When all players have returned their distribution sheets to the host, the host will declare which player has successfully earned the favor of each individual or group.  (The player who successfully earns the favor of an individual or group is the player who offers them the most gold.)
The Gladiator Trainer.  The player who successfully earns the favor of the Gladiator Trainer begins the draft.  Other players draft in descending order the bribe amount offered.  Each player must draft three heroes according to the following maximum point schedule:
  • 400 points: to the player who successfully bribes the Gladiator Trainer.
  • 380 points: to the player with the second highest bribe.
  • 360 points: to the player with the third highest bribe.
  • 340 points: to the player with the fourth highest bribe.
  • 320 points: to the player with the fifth highest bribe.
  • 300 points: to the player with the lowest bribe.

The High Priest of Dagmar.  The player who successfully earns the favor of the High Priest of Dagmar adds 10 to his or her initiative roll.  All other players add 1 to their initiative roll for each 10 pieces of gold they offered to the High Priest.
Throwing Money to the Crowd.  The player who successfully earns the favor of the Crowd is never attacked by the crowd and is never sniped.  All other players add 1 to their Crowd rolls (Crowd Approval Rating and Crowd Attack) for each 10 pieces of gold they offered to the Crowd.
The Animal Trainer.  The player who successfully earns the favor of the animal trainer will receive control of the squad of animals released into the arena after the first round.  The player who offers the second highest amount of gold to the Animal Trainer will receive control of the squad released after the second round.  The player who offered the third highest amount of gold will receive control of the squad released after the third round.
Game’s End: The game ends immediately when there are only six remaining heroes.
Winning the Game: The player who has the most points and has at least one hero remaining at the end of the game wins the game.
Points: Points are earned in the following manner:
  • Each player receives points equal to the point value of each hero he or she destroys during the game, including heroes destroyed by animals that player controlled. (For figures destroyed by Wyndar’s Ruling, the player whose attack activated Wyndar’s Ruling receives the points for that hero.  No player receives points for heroes destroyed by the Crowd.)
  • Each player receives points equal to the point value of each hero he or she has remaining at the end of the game.
  • Each player receives 100 points for each hero he or she has remaining at the end of the game.
Before the game began, I left the players with the follow blessing I attributed to Anna Karithon: “May your steps ever fall beyond the watch of Wyndar.”
As I said, it was a great afternoon,and a great game.  Next up for us is our fifth annual Halloween Heroscape event, a continuation of the story we began two years ago in the search for the Deathly Hallows at Grim's Hollow.
Until then, happy Heroscaping...