We played a 9-round narrative event covering 4 days at NOVA Open. Players took on one of two roles: a barbarian Warlord for Chaos, moving to destroy or capture all the inhabitants of the kingdom of Dawnland, an obscure corner among the thirteen regions in Ulgu the Mortal Realm of Shadows, or a Low King’s Warlord, moving to check the forces of Chaos and secure the High Throne for your own Low King or one you have found as an ally. For the purposes of this event, any Warhammer Age of Sigmar faction could fight for the Chaos invaders or the defenders of Dawnland.
We started with a world building session, drawing a map of Dawnland. This was not a map-based campaign, but the map helped us imagine the setting and determine some locations where the various battles happened. During this session it was also determined that the Shadow Ziggurat never stayed in the same location for more than a day, and that created a twist that changed the course of the campaign.
After a round of warm-up games, with randomly matched players, we played the multi-player introductory game using the Triumph & Treachery rules from the General’s Handbook. As one player suggested, it would have worked better as a team scenario, but everyone still enjoyed the game, and we got our first example of inevitable betrayal.
The High King of Dawnland arrived at Citadel, the largest city in Dawnland, and spent the night in an inn, preparing for his role in the upcoming trial of champions when the best hero would stand on top of the Shadow Ziggurat during the Great Eclipse and determine the next High King. But shadow agents assassinated the High King and tried to escape the city… with a little help from some new friends. The two tribes of duardin turned on each other in a deadly street brawl after one tribe switched allegiance to aid the assassins.
After the Fyreslayers turned on the court guard of Low King Gaius–his force had been in a prime position to intercept and capture the assassins which then escaped due to the betrayal–they crashed into the a brutal street fight with the Citadel Duardin High Guard, defenders of the capital city. This was a significant win for the Chaos invaders as the defenders of the realm had failed to come together in a united front.
The following morning, Friday, we had 8 players playing on four different tables–each tables has special scenery with special arcane artifacts which could be retrieved and used in battle.
In the Quickfall Marshes, a raiding Orruk warband attacks King Gaius Insatiable and his Court which was searching the stagnant pools for lost artifacts. The Orruks charged and the Orruks died.
In the Loewnthrall Forest Lord Vynwyrd rallied the Sylvaneth to defend the arcane trees, but these ashen-skinned Orruks were different, and the Spirit Krushas tribe cleared the forest of both spirits and trees. Many ancient and arcane trees were felled during and after this brutal battle.
In the lonely Dawnland village of Haybale Hollow, the 7th Legion organized and put up a stalwart defense and destroyed the Chaos spearhead, but at the cost of Lord Invictus suffering a terrible wound.
In the Jadenvyne Jungle Queen Neferata led her skeleton crew to find sacred artifacts, competing and besting two of her rival Chaos armies to prove herself the sole leader of the full invasion.
The Shadow Ziggurat loomed over the battlefields. We had determined, during the worldbuilding session at the start of the event, that the Ziggurat slipped among various locations, the next location unknown to any but the High Priests of Shadows.
The initial attacks had stalled, but the Chaos invaders renews their aggression and smashed their way through many small Dawnland villages.
Friday afternoon featured 10 players battling across 5 tables. The Dawnland village “Burn it Down” battleplan had the Chaos invaders trying to burn down as many buildings as possible, while several other defending players played “The High Road” which required movement across the length of a table to get information and supplies to their allies.
A warband of Duardin defenders attempt to stop a Korne Bloodbound force from burning destroying another village.. The Duardin gunners were ordered to provide nominal resistance, but the village would burn and the story of the Chaos barbarian’s rampaging would be used to fuel and solidify political support behind Low King Gaius and his Insatiable Court. The Bloodbound burned many buildgings, and many of the Low Kings pledged their support to Gaius following this atrocity.From across Blackshadow Bay a Chaos fleet approached and attempted to block resupply convoys for the kingdom’s defenders.
The spearhead of the invasion, a legion of bloodbound calling itself the Fleshstompers of Fine Bloodwine and led by the fearsome Krax, finally crashed through the gates of the capital city.
Although the citizens of Citadel shuttered their windows and hid, the Fleshstompers had a specific goal to stop the Insatiable Court from fleeing the city with supplies and valuable information and artifacts. They move to block many of the King Gaius’s Court, but several key figures managed to escape the city.In the Jadenvyne Jungle, the 7th Legion of Stormcast, cutting through to reinforce a village on the other side, encountered a portion of Neferata’s skeleton legion. Although the Black Knights seemed to ride into the battle, wave upon wave without end, the Stormcast managed to hold their ground against the massed ranks of undead.
After their earlier defeat in the Lowenthrall Forest, Lord Venwyrd appealed to the reticent Aelves of Dawnland and secured some resources, if not Aelven units, to counterattack the Chaos invasion of the forest. But this second attack in the forest was not led by rampaging Orruks… this time an army of Nurgle smashed through the trees, supported by a massive horde of Skaven plaguemonks.By the end of the battle, Lord Venwyrd had been severely wounded and most of the forest was in ruins or corrupted by the vile essence of Nurgle.
The Chaos invader fleet, after securing Blackshadow Bay, encounters a small but determined fleet of defenders on a mission to explore the Uncharted Floating Islands among the far northeastern region of the kingdom.
We had a fantastic assortment of ships available for a variety of naval missions during our campaign, and during the afternoon planning session the Dawnland defenders decided to send the Spirit Krushas, a fearless warband of Ashen Orruks. During their journey sailing through the bay and toward the islands they were intercepted by another Orruk fleet, this one joining the Chaos invasion as an excuse to wreck destruction on everything in their path… including the fleet of ships crewed by the Spirit Krushas.
The Spirit Krushas win the battle and capture the Chaos fleet, turning the tide against the invaders.
The Chaos invaders have overrun the borders of Dawnland, burning villages, cutting down arcane trees in the Lowenthrall Forest to leave it a landscape of scorched stumps, and looting the mystical and ancient temples in the Jadenvyne Jungle. Citadel still stands under control of the Duardin as the Chaos invaders left the city alone, but most of the land has been soaked in the blood and sweat of the myriad defenders. Now, only a few days before the Great Eclipse, the Chaos invaders coordinate their attacks to seize and control at least two of the several Dawn Gates…if they can control the gates then they can determine where the Shadow Ziggurat will next appear, and if they can attack and control the Ziggurat before the Great Eclipse then they will remove the soul and stop the heart of all Dawnland.
Friday night the Chaos invaders attempted to take and hold at least 2 of 3 Dawngate portals which would allow them to at least predict if not control the movement and appearance of the Shadow Ziggurat. If they could put one of their on at the top of the Ziggurat during the moment of the Great Eclipse then the conquest of Dawnland would be assured and the destruction of the realm would be easily accomplished.
Neferata leads her army into the ruins of an ancient Dawnland city where a Dawn Gate stands guarded by the Insatiable Court. The skeletal legion pushes relentlessly into the elite Court, but they fail to budge the guard and wrest control of the Gate.
In the Badlands, the 7th Legion stands tall against the chaotic charge of Goredrak’s cavalry.
Stormcast stand strong once again protecting the second Dawn Gate.
In the splintered remnants of the Lowenthrall Forest the Spirit Krushas countercharge the rampaging Nurgle force, and Rudneck ‘ead Smasha rode his Maw Krusha into the center of the Shaven battleline; the battle raged for ages but Goredrak finally fell from his mount.
After King Gaius forced Neferata to retreat from the ancient ruins, he uses an arcane rod of teleportation to infuse the corpse of the Maw Krusha in the Lowenthrall Forest to stir back to life and resume the battle.
In the city of Citadel, the Duardin miners rallied for a labor strike, siezing control of the city center with a list of demands. As the other Low Kings of Dawnland strived to keep the Chaos invaders from capturing more than one Dawn Gate, the Duardin tribes succumbed to civil war in thIn the city of Citadel, the Duardin miners rallied for a labor strike, siezing control of the city center with a list of demands. As the other Low Kings of Dawnland strived to keep the Chaos invaders from capturing more than one Dawn Gate, the Duardin tribes succumbed to civil war in the streets.
The Fyreslayers stand their position in the city square, prepared for anything.
The city guard take positions, armed with the best ranged weapons from the arsenal, and the captain of the guard makes a final demand that the rebellious Duardin return to their work in peace.
While the Duardin tribes resort to fighting among each other in the streets of Citadel, and the Chaos invading armies struggle to secure at least two Dawn Gates so the location of the Shadow Ziggurat can be determined, the remnants of the barbarian fleet sailing to regroup happens to spots the Ziggurat on the shore. Changing course, the fleet sails for shore as the daylight begins to fade, because after sunset the Ziggurat will vanish into the shadows, teleporting to another location in Dawnland. These Bloodbound must secure the Ziggurat before it relocates.
Two separate armies of Bloodbound, 3K points equivalent according to the General’s Handbook, start the approach to the shore. They must push through the Sylvaneth defenders and have at least one model reach the base of the Ziggurat by turn 6.
The ships land on turn 3.
Chaos forces disembark and pour across the shore, smashing into the Sylvaneth defenders.
Just as the last rays of sunlight vanish, a demon prince with only, wounded and bleeding, manages to climb onto the lowest level of the Ziggurat before it teleports.
As the sun dawns on the foretold day of the high eclipse, the greatest champions of the most powerful and prestigious of the Low Kings gather on the Shadow Plain as the Ziggurat appears and the gauntlet is to be run. The champion which can race to the top and remain standing against all other contenders when the eclipse is resolved will be the representative of the High Shadow King of Dawnland for the next Seven Years.
The dozens of champions sent by the most powerful and prestigious of the Low Kings of Dawnland gathered in a field on the Plain of Shadows during the morning of the high eclipse, the place where the priests had foretold the appearance of the Shadow Ziggurat. And the Ziggurat appeared, as expected, but the presence of Chaos agents was not expected. The champions battled each other and the agents of Chaos to position their houses for the final race to the throne at the final moment of the eclipse.
All of the champions slaughtered, save for three–two of which are agents of the Chaos invaders–the final eclipse begins and the race for the throne begins. Neferata’s agent, bounding up the levels of the Ziggurat ahead of the others, reaches the throne and reveals her true self.
But then the agent of Nurgle reaches the top, knocks Neferata’s agent down with the swing of his staff, and is–in turn–knocked down by the champion of King Gaius.
After Neferata’s agent snapped up the barbed daggers of the fallen king’s champion, she kills the Nurgle agent and claims the High Throne for Neferata. In a final twist of devotion, she declares herself High King of Dawnland and victory for the Chaos invaders, but secretely hopes to turn the conquest of the kingdom over to Nagash and the Grand Alliance of Death.
After the tournament event during Saturday, some of our Warlord players had exhausted their leadership abilities and retired to their tents. But our Overlord players, after the afternoon games on the Shadow Ziggurat, and a few Warlords, were still ready for more mayhem.
Neferata, on her way to the crowning ceremony in Citadel, stumbled into a Chaos ambush. Once partners in the invasion, now the Fleshstompers of Fine Bloodwine were determined to exact their revenge against the betrayal of Neferata. Fortunately Neferata’s lieutenants knew the ground of the Jadenvyne Jungle after fighting and surviving several battles in the wilderness, and they managed to deliver their Queen through the peril.
As Queen Neferata travels to Citadel for her coronation ceremony as the High Queen of Shadows, the Low King Gaius returns to the city with the remnants of the royal fleet in an attempt to stir the city to resist the new Queen. Ships clash in Blackshadow Bay with the remnants of the Chaos fleets, and the waters are choked with burning wrecks and broken vessels. But King Gaius is victorious, and just as he prepares to disembark and step onto the docks of the city, his remaining forces are best on all sides–from one shore charge an army of beastmen, and from the other side the dreaded army of Nurgle.
After the epic sea battle, the survivors climb aboard the remaining ships or crawl up from the holds below decks.
Beastmen charge from the northern docks, and Nurgle forces from the southern. Gravely outnumbered, King Gaius prepares his defence, but overconfidently splits his forces to counterattack both armies simultaneously.
A Great Unclean One steps across a gangplank and boards the listing Duardin ironclad, taking the fight to the guard of King Gaius.
Gaius begins to realize his cause to gather the denizens of Citadel to resist the false Queen of Dawnland may never be realized.
Sunday afternoon found the narrative in a new and interesting place. Stability had returned to Dawnland with a new ruling High King, the capital city intact and government functioning, and the Shadow Ziggurat secured by an invader.
Lord Invictus, his Stormcast capturing King Gaius, has the captive removed to a Dawn Gate where his high priest begins a ritual to restore order to King Gaius and send his soul to Azyr. But the Insatiable Court will not stand by idly and watch their King turned, and they rush through the gates of the ruined city to liberate their King.
The fight is fierce, but at the final moment before the ritual can be complete, King Gaius is removed from the gate and saved so he can rebuild his army and, perhaps one day, liberate Dawnland from the invaders and sit on the High Shadow Throne himself.
Meanwhile in the unexplored badlands, Neferata led her chosen guard to a forgotten Dawn Gate to attempt a ritual to contact Nagash and inform him of her power over Dawnland and offer the conquest to him. Of course, Sylvaneth powers, still loyal to Dawnland natives, rose up to stop her.
Neferata’s household guard stood their ground, and in the fading moments of the day she managed to contact Nagash and inform him of her success.