A team of dwarves, exploring an ancient, long-disused temple to Moradin, stumbles into a den of ghouls and ghasts. The dwarves need to fight their way through the mass of undead to cut them off at their source before the temple can be cleansed. Only then can the scavengers be banished back to the pits that spawned them.
Laying Out the Temple
See the accompanying map to see how the temple catacombs are constructed. The map is laid out using the Shrine and Rubble Room tiles from the Harbinger starter set and the Spike Stones Cave, Assembly Tile 3, and Aftermath tiles from the Aberrations starter set.
The dwarves have the following six figures in their warband:
Dwarf Sergeant (GoL, 30 pts)
Dwarven Werebear (DE, 23 pts)
Eberk, Adventurer (GoL, 16 pts)
Cleric of Moradin (DE, 14 pts)
Dwarf Axefighter (Har, 12 pts)
Tordek, Dwarf Fighter (Har, 5 pts)
Total = 100 points
The Undead begin the scenario with these ten figures in their warband:
Ghoul x8 (Har, 14 pts)
Ghast x2 (GoL, 25 pts)
Total = 162 points
The scenario begins when the dwarves, exploring the old temple, hear noises coming from the far side of a crumbling, walled-up archway. They smash through the ancient brickwork to reveal a charnel pit that's crawling with ghouls and ghasts. With fresh prey in sight, the scavengers are on their feet in a flash and the battle is joined.
All of the undead set up on the Aftermath tile in difficult going spaces.
All of the dwarves set up on the Shrine tile.
The dwarves are slightly startled by their discovery, so the undead have initiative on the first turn.
The Undead player gets continual reinforcements throughout the scenario. Whenever a ghoul or ghast is slain or routed off the map (by being turned), it's out of the game only temporarily. At the beginning of the next round, place all those eliminated figures back on difficult going spaces of the Aftermath tile. No matter how many of these hunger-crazed undead the dwarves kill, there are always more where they came from.
The ghouls and ghasts have serious command issues in this scenario. With no commander, they are always out of command. That limits their normal movement to Spd 2. Worse, they're also difficult creatures, which means that if they have an enemy in reach and LOS, they must rush -- they get no choice in the matter. A clever dwarven player will find ways to use this to his advantage.
With that in mind, a refresher course on rushing might help smooth play of the scenario. A rushing figure must observe these rules:
- It must have an enemy in LOS at the start of its turn;
- It must be able to move adjacent to that enemy in a single turn (not necessarily a single move action). If it can't reach the enemy, it can't rush;
- The target of the rush must be the nearest enemy figure in LOS at the start of the rushing figure's turn;
- It must rush that nearest enemy and no other. Even if a closer figure comes into view during the move, the target doesn't change;
- The rushing figure can take any path to reach the target, as long as it ends its move adjacent to the target;
- A rush can be a charge if the undead figure has a straight, clear, unobstructed path to the target. Otherwise, it's handled like normal movement in terms of whether the rushing figure can attack;
- The rushing figure doesn't need to stop as soon as it comes adjacent to the target. It can continue moving (to get through a gap in the enemy line or into flanking position, for example) if it's willing to endure the attack(s) of opportunity. It must, however, end its move adjacent to the original target of the rush;
- If the rushing figure is able to attack after moving, only the original target of the rush is a legitimate target for the attack;
- If a ghoul or ghast begins the turn adjacent to multiple enemies, it can choose which to attack. It doesn't need to keep attacking the figure it rushed on a previous turn;
- If a ghoul or ghast begins the turn adjacent to one or more enemy figures, it can still move in order to get into a better position. It can't disengage completely from all those figures it began adjacent to, but must remain adjacent to at least one of them, even if it doesn't attack that one. In this way, the undead can thread their way into and through a loose enemy formation;
- Situations may arise in which a ghoul or ghast cannot move adjacent to the nearest enemy figure because that enemy is already completely surrounded by other undead. If another enemy figure is further away, in LOS, and still within reach, it is a legitimate target for a rush.
A Few Other Things to Consider
Paralysis plays a big part in this scenario. Remember that attacks against paralyzed figures automatically hit and cause double damage. A paralyzed figure gets to make a save against the paralysis every time it activates.
The dwarves' entry squares are the two squares marked with Xs on the Shrine tile. Routing dwarves head toward these squares and can leave the map through them. Ghouls and Ghasts are fearless so they never rout. If turned, they run toward the heap of corpses on the Aftermath tile and can exit from any of the difficult going spaces.
The dwarves win the instant either Eberk or the Cleric of Moradin activates while on the Aftermath tile. The figure must begin the turn on the Aftermath tile and must not be either routed or paralyzed.
The undead win the instant that both Eberk and the Cleric of Moradin are slain or when a ghoul or ghast steps onto the Shrine tile.
Because the undead have somewhat restricted move options, Ghoul Rush is a good scenario for solitaire play. It's also something of a puzzle -- once the dwarves hit on the right strategy, their win/loss ratio should swing dramatically in the dwarves' advantage.
The dwarves are well-equipped to deal with this situation because of their save bonuses. Feel free to build other LG or CG 100-point warbands to throw against these undead. The attackers need high ACs, good saves, and at least one cleric to fulfill the victory condition. Interesting warbands can be themed around almost any Good cleric. Try using the clerics of St. Cuthbert (Ab), Corellon Larethian (Har), Lathander, or Kord as your starting point. Figures that can fly (e.g., Crow Shaman) or otherwise move without walking across the floor (e.g., Hound Archon) aren't allowed. Neither are figures that can transpose the positions of two figures or instantaneously zip other figures around the map. If you come up with a good warband, post it to the forum for others to try.
About the Author
Steve Winter is a writer, game designer, and web producer living in the Seattle area. He's been involved with publishing D&D in one form or another since 1981. Tiny people and monsters made of plastic and lead are among his favorite obsessions.