We played another session on our Nightwatch campaign earlier this month. The first session, back in July, was a great test drive of the ruleset. This session featured the same threat level (fairly low, suitable for beginning characters). We gathered on a John’s back patio on a scorching hot day in western Oregon. (“But it’s a dry heat!”)
The mission involved escorting an academic from the civilized lands into the Hattendorf Border Marches, in an attempt to learn more about the source of the beastmen raids that had plagued mightily this peaceful region.
The hunters needed to cross the board diagonally, from corner to corner, while keeping their bespectacled scientist safe from the ravening hordes.
As before, Vincent, Paul, and Daniel brought their hunters, plus a few hirelings purchased with hard-won silver coins following last month’s session.
John and I shared responsibilty for running the bad guys – the beastmen vermin and chaos raider hordes that would boil forth from several pre-determined points on the battlefield throughout the game. The game featured some new gnoll archers that John had printed and painted just the week before. Very nice!
As the game got underway, it was amusing to see just how cautious the hunters were in their approach. The near disaster of the first session, where the hunters had strolled blithely through the first few turns before stumbling toward the end, had clearly factored into their strategy. They moved at a deliberate pace and tried to stick together as a group.
As before, the vermin and hordes began spawning each turn during the “Darkness” phase, leading to regular and repeated intonations of “DARKNESS DESCENDS; WEEP FOR THE WORLD YOU HAVE LOST” by yours truly. What can I say, I like getting in character a bit?!
The difference was in the players’ behavior. They were tactical and methodic, making full use of their hirelings, magic spells, and various items of wargear acquired in the previous session.
As the game got underway, the corpses of slain beastmen began to pile up everywhere, represented by colored tokens on our battlefield. In Nightwatch, each hunter has a burden – a curse or debt or other drawback that must be managed or overcome over the course of the campaign. Several burdens relate to corpses, such as looting them or retrieving some artifact. So we had to note the location of dead bodies as the slaying began in earnest!
And still the beastmen attacked! Nightwatch has a basic AI system that provides some flexibility for how the spawning baddies behaved. They won’t always just charge directly for the hunters. Sometimes they’ll angle in to focus on a target related to the scenario – like the fragile academic, in this case!
The beastmen and chaos raiders arrived in ever-greater numbers, but the players were prepared to deal with them. The scientist made it safely to the other side of the board by turn 5, right when the bad guy deployment schedule was just about to ramp up into a more dangerous category. Nice work, team!
It was a solid victory for the hunters – but their celebrations will be short-lived. From here, the threat level of subsequent scenarios will increase…more bad guys, in greater numbers, spawning earlier in the game. We’re playing session #3 soon, so check back for the latest on the hunters and their ultimate quarry…