Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Fu Manchu's Halls of Horror

When playing Chill back in the 1980s, along with various figures from GW's Gothic Horror range I also bought their Halls of Horror floor-plans, which were a series of rooms depicting late 19th/early 20th century rooms in a big country house. As with the figures these have sat mostly idle for the past 30 years. However I wondered if they'd work as a restricted playing area for Battlesworn. After all, the game doesn't use measurement, so the size of the playing area is irrelevant, so long as the figures fit onto it in a sensible manner. The furniture would act to block movement, and stairs would be a change of terrain. Fighting in corridors or passages would create interesting restrictions. I decided to set up a game using some of the rooms, to see how they'd look and whether they would be practical.

I rummaged through the box, and came up with this setup - a grand hallway leading to an  upper chamber in which dark sorcery is obviously being enacted.

The perpetrator of this evil is, of course, Dr. Fu Manchu, who is using the captured Miss Faversham in an unspeakable ritual to summon some dark elder god. Or he is giving her a lesson in Australian botany.

Knowing SAVE would be on their way to attempt to thwart his plans, Fu Manchu has assembled a force of minions. They include six Skeletons (Rabble), the Mummy, Lot 249 (Assassin/Tank), his bodyguard Hassan The Silent (Monk/Brute) and Jack The Ripper (Brute/Rogue).

SAVE burst into the building.

A couple of skeletons are waiting for them. The fight is on!

I ran this as a solo game, although it's not designed as such. I will write the scenario up properly in another post if there's any interest, but the gist of it was that SAVE had to fight their way up the stairs, along the balconies on either side of the hall and into Fu Manchu's chamber of sorcery in order to prevent him completing his dark ritual. There was a time-limit on this. After ten turns Fu Manchu would be able to start casting the ritual, which was run as a spell. If he cast it successfully three times then it would be completed, and SAVE would lose. Obviously if they took enough casualties then they would also lose.

Both sides started with only some of their force in action. At the end of each turn, Fu Manchu could bring on either two skeletons, or one of the other characters, their position being randomly determined, but basically coming from the various doorways or archways around the board. Once per game he could bring on one character through the doorway into his chamber instead of rolling for its position. The skeletons could be recycled; destroyed models could be brought back on later turns, but there could never be more than six in lay at any given time. SAVE could bring up to three characters on each turn, although only three could fit in the archway, so characters previously brought on would have to move out of the way first.

SAVE rushed across the hallway. One Fighter was intercepted by a skeleton, but The Baron and another Fighter reached the foot of the stairs.

More skeletons appeared through the archways, as Josephine Carfax, Ranjit Singh and a hired gun entered the building.

The Baron and a Fighter raced up the stairs. A skeleton rushed to stop them but was calmly shot down by Miss Carfax. At the top of the stairs The Baron turned right; with a skeleton already covering the stairs on the other side left wasn't the best option. The Fighter moved to cover his rear.

Misfortune for SAVE; one of their Fighters was cut down.

Skeletons appeared to block the Baron's move. He also found himself cursed by Fu Manchu, who could cast spells at this stage (Curse doesn't need a line of sight).

Miss Carfax was attacked by a skeleton.

And Jack The Ripper appeared on the balcony.

At this stage SAVE were in trouble. The bidding had gone badly for them, with tied bids on two consecutive rounds going to Fu Manchu. Their advance had been halted, opponents were appearing everywhere to hinder them and the clock was ticking.

Fu Manchu's daughter appeared. As a familiar he could use her to trace a line of sight for casting his paralysis spell and (I decided, although it's not specifically stated) use his Leader ability.

Lot 249 lumbered out of a doorway. His Assassin ability represented a particularly nasty mummy's curse.

Miss Carfax fell to a skeleton's axe.

An overview a few turns in. The Baron and the Fighter (I must give the supporting muscle and guns some names) had a tough run ahead of them along either balcony now, with virtually all of Fu Manchu's minions in play. Ranjit Singh moved up in support. He's an Arquebusier, so would be good for one, possibly two, good shots during the game.

A skeleton attacked Ranjit Singh, but he smashed it to pieces with a single blow. A gunman felled another skeleton.

Battle was joined on the top landing!

Both skeletons were easily dispatched, but the Baron was wounded.

More skeletons appeared as Fu Manchu got a lucky reinforcements placement roll.

The Reverend Philips was beset by another of the endless supply of skeletons.

The Baron and the Fighter were now working their way along the balcony. Skeletons in the main hall below prevented the hired guns from providing fire support, however.

Jack the Ripper was downed!

Ranjit Singh reached the top landing.

Smashing his way through a final skeleton, the Fighter reached the passage to Fu Manchu's chamber! But time had caught up with SAVE; the ritual had begun.

A skeleton cut down the cursed and wounded Baron.

With the enemy at the gates, Fu Manchu called on his bodyguard, the formidable Hassan The Silent.

The monstrosity in the pentagram could not fight, but it blocked movement and line of sight. Could SAVE stop the ritual?

Ranjit Singh was attacked by a skeleton, whilst another prepared to charge.

Hassan the Silent attacked the brave SAVE Fighter, whilst Fu Manchu chanted, compleing the first part of the ritual.

Ranjit Singh defeated one skeleton, but another appeared further along the balcony. However SAVE won a tied initiative, allowing him to rush past them to the door before they could react.

Hassan the Silent easily dispatched his foe.

Fu Manchu completed the second part of the ritual. One more part would see his victory.

SAVE were up against it now. Ranjit Singh and the Reverend Philips were almost at the door of his chamber, but the other envoys were now blocked from reinforcing them by the mummy, Lot 249, waiting at the top of the first landing.

Ranjit Singh burst into Fu Manchu's chamber.

Fu Manchu attempted to complete the third part of the ritual, but failed! Casting the ritual required an action, so the game now became a tense on of trying to prevent Fu Manchu from getting the initiative he needed to make an attempt.

Again, a lucky initiative win saw Ranjit Singh dodge past Hassan the Silent, to reach Fu Manchu's altar.

The two characters faced each other.

A tied initiative bid!

Fu Manchu wins!

He cast the ritual, needing to score one 6 in a 6D6 roll. He failed - again!

Enter the Reverent Philips! As a Witch-Hunter he gets a bonus when fighting Fu Manchu.

Ranjit Singh fired his shotgun, but only clipped Fu Manchu's robe. Fu Manchu's returned paralysis spell failed to hit as well.

The Reverend Philips ducked out of sight of the bodyguard.

Ranjit Singh bravely engaged Hassan the Silent whilst the Reverend rushed towards Fu Manchu.

There was fighting! There were wounds!

Using his Monk ability, Hassan the Silent broke off from Ranjit Singh, ready to assist his master.

But the day was lost for SAVE elsewhere. Two of their gunment had fought and destroyed Lot 249 in an epic struggle at the top of the stairs. But both were now poisoned, and one wound from death ...

A gunman succumbed to the Curse of the Mummy, pushing SAVE over their casualty limit. Fu Manchu had won!

The positions at the end. I did run through the last combats in the chamber, but no-one inflicted any damage. SAVE had come very close to pulling of a last-minute victory, but the initiative had generally always been with Fu Manchu.

The scenario gave a tense and exciting game, although I'd need to play it through again before deciding if it is properly balanced. With so many random elements balance is always difficult to achieve anyway; two lost initiative bids early on cost SAVE a lot of time, for example. In addition it's possible that the endless supply of skeletons, whilst dramatic, might also make life too difficult for the envoys. Maybe just having a limited, but larger supply would work. Or maybe remove a skeleton from play permanently if it is hit by three or more wounds, giving SAVE an incentive to hit them hard early on.

Needless to say the floorplans looked great, despite the funky perspective, and gave a proper period feel to the action.


  1. That looks awesome, Kap'n.

  2. A very entertaining report. I like the creative use of the witch/leader extending line of sight with a familiar, it is like a "minion" transmitting the masters orders.

    1. The Familar's LOS extension is an odd ability really, since a Witch only has two spells and one of those doesn't require LOS in the first place. Extending the bonus to all LOS-related things kind of makes sense. Obviously it wouldn't work for shooting - you can see the target, but wouldn't have a line of fire, but I can see situations where it might allow a Witch to charge someone they can't directly see, which could be useful.

  3. Great game report thanks. Those floorplans really work well...the perspective is very cleverly drawn. Lot 249? Isn't that by Conan Doyle as I recall?

    1. It is indeed Conan Doyle. I'm glad someone got the reference :)

      (The first animated mummy horror story, allegedly)

    2. I was curious about that as well. The only "near hit" (or complete miss) I could think of was lot 666 from the phantom of the opera musical - a broken chandelier.

    3. I thought of adding in a chandelier rule, covering the use of that circular crest design on the floor - a character could shoot out the chandelier, which would come crashing down there doing damage to anyone underneath (and creating a broken glass terrain change). Possibly of no use in this scenario, but something for a different one using the same floorplans.

    4. Wow, you've outdone yourself with great piccies this time, Kapitano! A stroke of genious to use floorplans with Battlesworn and what a superb retro feel, using all-eighties gaming materiel. This opens up so many possibilities...

  4. Excellent , detailed report. I am sharing this on my social media

  5. I would love to see this written up as a more detailed solo scenario so others could play it.

    1. I'll see what I can do, although the rules are fairly specific to the design and layout of the floorplans.

      To be honest I'd probably remove the randomised reinforcements, and maybe eben the endless Rabble (just have more of them). There are 12 main access points onto the board; I'd allow Fu Manchu to use each one once. This stops the problem I was getting with SAVE clearing one batch of skeletons only to have the corridor fill up with them again. I shall try and play it again over the weekend and see what happens.

    2. Here you go:

  6. I give this excellent idea a shout-out here:


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