Wednesday, 24 January 2018

CLV. Monstrous Births: Act II

In the days after the encounter at the cave, the Countess learns of more cases of monstrous wildlife. Not just that;  a rumour gets to her that in villages and farms neighbouring Volovska Weald, there has been an alarming amount of monstrous births among livestock in the past month. The horror does not end there, either. She visits some peasants with her men, and talks to the pastor and local woodsmen. The Countess learns that not only have the farm animals and wild game been birthing monstrous young, but several women, too. And people say their pregnancies are unbelievably short, lasting no more than a few weeks. Many were stillborn, but even those that survived were quietly disposed of by the family out of fear or shame or mercy. 

With great difficulty the Countess manages to find a girl who gave birth to a deformed child and is willing to talk to her. She tells her that she went to the woods one day to gather herbs and she believes she was assaulted there by some kind monster. She has no memory of the event itself, but she knows where it occurred and gives that information to the Countess. The peasants are growing increasingly scared and irritable, and wild theories abound of the cause of all this. Eager to solve this unnatural problem in her domain, the Countess decides to investigate further. 

The village Volovo.
The very morning after she has learnt of the attack, she sends a small contingent of spirits to search the crime scene for possible clues on what fiend violated the girl. Perhaps something can be found. From the safety of Castle Waywode, the Countess will lead the spirits seeing through the eyes of the Beast.

The Beast and her henchmen arrive to the spot in Volovska Weald where the heinous assault had occurred. Fortune is on their side, they have the cover of thick autumn fog to conceal them. On the other hand, it makes it more difficult to search the area. The spirits begin spreading out to cover more ground.

There is movement in the distance. A large shape bolts across a fairy ring and disappears into the trees and the mist. Might just be a common deer, but that recent experience puts the crew on alert.

A Crimson Sphynx first spots something on the ground a distance away, and stalks towards it...

... but it is surprised by a monstrous deer. As grotesque and sad as the one we saw lunge down a well the other day. Unfortunately for the Sphynx, this one is much more aggressive in nature.

The deer rams into the Sphynx and then immediately charges at the nearest Custodian, who was examining a set of tracks on the forest floor. Before the Sphynx can react, another misshapen deer appears from the fog behind it.

A bloody battle starts. Not much of those tracks will remain if the ground gets trampled by the fighters...

A bit further off, a Bloodfiend sniffed out something interesting, but it too is jumped by a monstrosity.

The Countess is getting more and more irate. She summons some backup for her spirit host, and the Beast gets full on into the fray. But just as one deer is killed or driven away, another appears from the woods...

Eventually they stop coming. The ground is littered with bodies of deer. Mounds of tortured flesh, tangles of crooked legs and overgrown antlers...

Four potential clues are discovered by the crew. There are tracks on the forest ground. On several bushes there are clumps of hair. A decaying corpse of a boar lies by a tree. Several piles of animal droppings can be seen on the leaf-covered ground. The Countess examines them one by one through the Beast's eyes. 

The prints do not look like deer tracks, but more like unshod horse hoofs. The hair is pale and fine, and feels like it came from a tail or a mane. The boar is a male, and was lanced a few days ago with some kind of piercing weapon, judging by the mortal wound. Some of the droppings indicate a larger herbivore, but, interestingly, contain bone fragments.

The spirits' mission is complete, and they are dismissed. The Countess now has a pretty good idea of what this attacker can be. And an even better idea for what to do with it...

*   *   *

Just like Act I, this game used Malifaux rules with a few tweaks and with custom stats for my characters. Tomislav Rac again played the Countess, and I directed the Misshapen Deer. In the second act the goal was to secure the four clue markers that weer placed on the table. A Misshapen Deer spawned whenever one of the spirits approached a clue. Tomislav managed to control all four markers at the end of the game, which means he will get some useful information on what he is up against in the third and final game. 

This encounter was played without the Countess on the table. But she was able to use her activations, in which she could cast spells using the Beast for measuring range and line of sight.

The fog that was present on the battlefield had its own rules. The line of sight was limited to 10'' on the first turn, and each subsequent turn I randomly determined whether the fog becomes denser or starts clearing up. The fog's thickness varied throughout the game. It did not have much impact, mostly because there are very few ranged attacks in these two crews, plus the fog decided to go heavily in the direction of dispersing. But had it gone the other way it could have caused visibility problems for both our crews. The fog in the photos was my first attempt to photoshop it. I worked from this tutorial I found after a quick search.  

This is the atmospheric soundtrack we used for game two: most tracks from Aokigahara (2015) by Flowers for Bodysnatchers, Primordial (2015) by Paleowolf, and The Witch (2015) OST again.


  1. Exquisitely atmospheric, as always. I love the fog effects.

  2. Great photos; very eerie... looks like a good game too.

  3. Wow! Congratulations for the report. I've been following your blog for a while and I have to say that I'm very happy with your models and settings. I like the gothic atmospheres that you have created (Gardens of Hecate or your islands of the Realm of Shadows in Age of Sigmar). I want to create a project similar to Legen or Tor Megido in my club. It will be a Gothic setting (Diablo or Bloodbound style) with bands of vampires. In my club we played Age of Sigmar and also Malifaux. You who know both, which one would you recommend for the project? Which rules do you like most?

    A greeting from Spain.

    1. Thank you!
      If your players are already quite familiar with the Malifaux rules, I’d recommend that. There is much less randomness than in AoS, which means the outcome will depend more on the players’ decisions and resource management. There is way more variety in possible interactions between models, allowing for all sorts of scenarios to be played out (I expect the scenario won’t be just about killing everyone on the board). Best base the stats for your warbands on existing Malifaux units, and tweak to match your characters. That’s what I did with Gardens. You give them guidelines as the organizer, and when they come up with stats for their warbands discuss them together in the group to make sure they are all more or less balanced… If you want to discuss this further feel free to send me an email (you can find it if you go to my profile).
      Your planned event sounds interesting. I hope you share it with the internet if anything comes of it. ��


    2. Hello

      Technically we are more Age of Sigmar players in the club than Malifaux. Anyway, and although my vampire project started geared to Age of Sigmar, I thought about creating my own setting and using a different set of rules. Malifaux barely managed it but I think it can be a good system. I'll write you to the mail to ask you about this possible adaptation of Malifaux. I'm glad you like my project.

      Regards, and thank you very much

  4. Eerie and spectacular! You have woven a sublime and chilling tale. Good to see your crescendo with the Countess and other coming to the fore! <3

  5. Oh, what a excellent dark atmosphere!

  6. These are seriously amazing. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  7. A great and interesting entry. Thanks for a lot of inspiration!

  8. Spooky,yet somewhat kinda romantic.good writing though