Last week we shared AoS: Soulbound – Encounter Design Part 1, by C7 line developer Elaine Lithgow, if you missed it you’ll find it here. Continue reading for Part 2!
The Mountain That Walks
(Design Note: This encounter is envisioned as a grand finale to a campaign and an example of just how epic in scale a Soulbound game can become. In The Mountain That Walks, Chaos cultists have been kidnapping mortals and sacrificing them to a living metal volcano in Chamon, slowly corrupting it and bringing it to life under their control. The party find themselves atop the Mountain That Walks as it stomps towards a nearby city to destroy it in the name of Chaos.)
Read aloud to the players:
‘The time has come. The ritual is complete. The mountain of corrupted living metal has uprooted itself from the horizon and begun to stomp towards the city under the control of Chaos. There is no time to mount an offensive. Only you can stop the Mountain That Walks.’
Fighting atop the Mountain That Walks provides a number of challenges.
Every second round of combat, all characters standing or climbing on the Mountain must make a DN 4:1 Body (Reflexes) Test or fall Prone as the ground beneath their feet quakes and lurches with the Mountain’s unnatural movement.
After four rounds of combat, the Mountain That Walks reaches the city and breaches the walls with ease. Every round after this, the Mountain destroys 2d6 buildings and the Doom track increases by 1, as countless lives are lost beneath the Mountain’s uncaring feet. If the Doom track reaches 10, the city is completely leveled.
(Design Note: The environment here is a character itself, so we want regular reminders to the players that it isn’t just another mountain they are fighting atop. We also add a nice big ticking clock to this final encounter by giving the party a bird’s eye view of the destruction.)
The Mountain That Walks will only cease its destructive rampage when three ritual sites are destroyed or cleansed. Each site is ten Zones away from each other site. The party will need to split up and prioritise the different sites if they are to prevent the entire city from being destroyed.
The ritual sites can be cleansed in a number of ways.
- Smashing or pouring one sphere of Aqua Ghyranis directly onto the runes.
- Succeeding in an DN 5:3 Mind (Arcana) Test while in contact with the runes to unbind them.
- Dealing 12 Damage to the runes to destroy them.
(Design Note: Always consider some different ways of completing an objective, especially if you are not sure of the party composition.)
The First Ritual Site
The first Zone is located at the top of the volcanic peak of the mountain. Here the Tzaangor Mountain Shaman commands the Mountain That Walks and his followers with braying cries to the Lord of Change. They use the Tzaangor Shaman (Soulbound, page 321) stat-block, but have a Channelling Skill of (3d6 +2)
The Tzaangor Mountain Shaman is accompanied by one Swarm of five Vulcharcs and one Tzaangor (Soulbound, page 321) per party member.
The Tzaangors act as bodyguards and violently attack any party members that approach the ritual site or approach the Shaman. Meanwhile, the Shaman stands atop the ritual site and uses ranged spells against the party.
Should the number of Tzaangors drop below half, the Shaman uses its turn to cast Boon of Mutation on the Vulcharc Swarms overhead. Each successful casting of this spell plucks one of the Vulcharcs from the Swarm and twists it into a single Tzaangor, which lands and attacks the party on its turn.
(Design Note: By having the Shaman use their Boon of Mutation on the Vulcharc, you are showing the effects of this devastating power before using it on the characters. It also adds a neat way of letting the boss summon more warriors!)
The Vulcharcs swarm around the Shaman and use the Defend Action on him each turn, forming a living shield of wings, beaks, and claws. If their numbers drop to one or fewer Swarms, a fresh Swarm of five Vulcharcs swoop down to bolster their numbers on the following round.
(Design Note: This gives our Shaman multiple fun interactions with his swarms of pet birds, and a pseudo-regenerating shield. To hurt the Shaman, the party need to clear out the birds and snatch damage between fresh swarms flocking in — making this relatively squishy Chosen much tougher to take down — perfectly suitable for an end-of-campaign boss and all from a few interesting Action and Trait synergies!)
If the ritual site is destroyed before the Shaman is defeated, or they drop below half their Toughness, they summon their Disc of Tzeentch and move at full speed to another active ritual site, taking their Vulcharcs with them. If there are no other ritual sites remaining, they fight to their last breath.
The Second Ritual Site
The second ritual site is located on the side of the Mountain, etched into a sheer cliff face of jagged rock. Any character wishing to reach the ritual site in this area must climb, or fly across three Zones.
The site is protected by two Swarms of five Vulcarchs per party member that approaches the site. Half the Swarms of Vulcarchs attack any characters that approach the ritual site, while the other half use the Shove Action (Soulbound, page 144) on any climbing characters in an attempt to make them fall. If a character falls, they fall 1d6 × 10 feet, taking Damage as normal (see Soulbound, page 140), before landing on a rocky outcrop, one Zone further away from the ritual site.
(Design Note: The idea for the second ritual site was to give characters with flight or exceptional athletic ability the chance to shine by making an environment that is incredibly difficult to traverse by normal means.)
The Third Ritual Site
The third ritual site is located in the heart of the volcanic mountain. The area counts as a Major Hazard to any creatures who enter, aside from the Kairic Acolytes and the Tzaangor enemies, who have complex heat resistance runes etched into their skin to protect them from the Mountain’s heart.
The ritual site is located on a small outcrop of metal in the centre of a wide pool of sloshing and swaying magma. The only way to reach it on foot is across a long and very narrow chain bridge four Zones long that hangs above the lava. The bridge is unstable and sways wildly with the Mountain’s footsteps, increasing the DN of Tests from the Mountain’s movement to DN 4:2 Body (Reflexes). Should any creature fall Prone while crossing the bridge or near the edge of the lava, they must make a DN 4:2 Body (Reflexes) Test or fall into the magma. The magma is a Deadly Hazard which ignores armour.
The site itself is protected by five Kairic Acolytes (Soulbound, page 320) per party member that approaches the ritual site. They attempt to hide behind stalagmites of rippling volcanic metal scattered across the outcrop and cast Arcane Bolt at any who approach.
(Design Note: This is a fairly simple one: Kairic Acolytes can be devastating magical artillery. The challenge for the party here is going to be crossing the bridge while under fire. Remind them about the Dodge Action!)
And there we have it folks, three separate encounters of increasing scale all made using the same design methods and the versatility of the base Soulbound mechanics. I hope you found something useful for designing your own encounters. Feel free to join us on the unofficial Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Soulbound Discord server and share with us your own wonderful and horrifying encounters.
Until next time, go make something epic!
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