Friday, February 23, 2018

The Gibbering Dome : Guest post by Paul Wagner

Hey Everyone! Today I have a very special guest post for everyone to enjoy.  I invited Paul (@Pjschard) from The Mortal Realms Podcast and Youtube Channel to discuss his upcoming Narrative Age of Sigmar Event at this year's Adepticon.  Paul is a passionate Narrative Event Organizer (NEO) with a love of spiders, goblins, and all things Warhammer.  It has been a treat to assist him with some of the preparations for the event titled "The Gibbering Dome" and I look forward to seeing the idea come to life on the tabletop in less than a month's time.


I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the idea of playing Warhammer games set in an indoor setting, I generally tend to blame that on playing Dungeons & Dragons endlessly from age 9 to 12. Until Age of Sigmar, playing a full battle of Warhammer within the confines of a twisting hallway, immense cavern, or massive landmark was simply impossible.  Ranks and flanks movement forced a large broad empty area in the center of every battlefield and did not allow for small chokepoints where only a single figure can pass through.   This was a bit of a frustration for me as I had bought well over a thousand dollars of Dwarven Forge dungeon tiles to play Warhammer with and they had been relegated to a pretty background for pictures.  

When Age of Sigmar dropped, one of my first thoughts was elation that I could finally play a full game of Warhammer within this setting.  It is easily my favorite way to play AoS.  Following ACON last year I was motivated to extend that experience to other players and Coalescence provided the perfect backdrop.  I definitely doubted my ability to complete the project within the time frame required, so I broke the project into landmarks.  @bishmeister on Twitter was an incredible resource for material use and inspiration.  Originally I was hoping to make all the terrain flat pack but had to concede on that point due to construction issues.  I had to make concessions to my original vision but was ultimately incredibly excited about the product I was able to produce in such a short time.

Mike Butcher contemplating the final Coalescence Scenario.

I based the construction loosely on the interior of the Wisconsin State Capitol and decided to name its AoS counterpart the Gibbering Dome with help from the Mortal Realms Crew.  Because I have limited storage space all my tables are modular, allowing for each game to be a unique board including elevation changes.  The height variance has actually provided an interesting side benefit, allowing players to see the battle at eye level from a chair, but also to see the other players as well.  The games played on these tables have been some of the most enjoyable games I have watched and really inspired me to hold more events.  One of my goals going forward is to establish The Gibbering Dome as a setting that anyone will be able to pick and play using a few custom rules and their own terrain.  One of the ways I have started to establish that setting is through writing my own background, but the most important tool is by running more events using the terrain itself.
I’ll not forget to say thanks to Chuck not only for offering me the post today, but also the immense help he has been with planning the Gibbering Dome Event. I’ll finish the post with a teaser piece of fiction sent out to all the players of the Gibbering Dome Event at Adepticon that encapsulates the journey a hero such as theirs may tell following the event.

Petral the Thornborn, first son of the first son, a prince who will never be crowned, forester of the Nevergreen Mountains, and freeman of Ghyran stalked silently across the slopes.  Every footstep was a determined thing, intentional and planned.  He was careful if for no other reason than the respect of his prey.  Golden eyes ranged the mountainside, seeking a sign, and as he knelt to inspect another glimmering azure pool his long auburn braids rippled in the wind. The blossom-jaguar must be near for its blood was still shining.  Sinew bow carefully trained on the path marked by blue twinkles amid shifted talus, he rounded yet another ridge.   
 Petral recognized the location and braced himself: it was an impassable gorge which drove back into the mountainside.  He knew his prey was now trapped.  The defile was deep in shadow despite the full noon sun blazing in the green sky above.  He could see the jewels of light dotting the darkness before him, but it was fading.  The blossom-jaguar must be close to death.  
Warily pacing back and forth, he stepped into the darkness only when his eyes could pierce it.   After a few minutes of tracking, the path receded into the cliff wall, but the blossom-jaguar was nowhere in sight.  Ahead, waterfalls tumbled down sheer cliffs and coated the rocks in a fine mist.  Luminescent moss carpets floated level with the path, slowly rising and falling in the buffeting wind.  Scanning beyond the path, he could see no trace of his prey.  The blossom-jaguar must have fallen.  Petral made to leave, foot twisting upon the talus, but he stopped and peered once more into the depths.  Upon the closest carpet was a spill of twinkling liquid within the vegetation.  It looked like blood.
 If the giant cat could walk across the floating carpets, then so must he. A tentative foot stepped forward, and the moss did not give.  Step by step, he walked deeper into the gorge.  In these untouched depths, Ghyran found a way to grow and thrive.  Arches of plate-like fungus soon showed upon the falls and softly glowing toadstools dotted the air, roots glistening with moisture.  Ultraviolet rainbows shimmered within the mists, dazzling his eyes.  Still, he followed the fading drops of light until their light had gone and the spots of blood stood out as wounds of death in the thriving, pearlescent landscape.  
The waterfalls grew more numerous until they filled the cliffs before him, yet the blood led ever forward.  Shivering despite himself, Petral shouldered his way through the largest one, stepping through into a vaulted grotto behind the falls.   A still life lay on the floor to the right, soaked, tired and strained.  Dark glistening blood told the tracker that the blossom-jaguar was near death.  He cautiously moved closer, then carefully removed his axe from its side.  The hunted quivered one last time, and liquid emptiness pooled across the shimmering life of the grotto as motes of purest light ascended into the air from the lifeless mass.  Mouthing an ancient blessing, Petral stroked its ears, the texture of the lily petals smooth against his hand. He traced the spots of orchids upon its flank before moving down to the tough sinewy fiber of its tail.  His fingers reached to the legs and removed the needle-sharp thorns from its paws before rolling the thorns back and forth in his palm.  These would be a nice addition to the thorn-claw necklace about his throat. The prince stood a moment, reflecting that this was the second sacred life he had needed to kill.  
Scrabbling harvester beetles erupted from the rock, intent upon the dead mass.  Petral took a step back and watched the cycle of Ghyran come to completion.  Soon the glowing moss beneath his feet began to undulate with verdant sapphire ripples, drawing him deeper into the mountain.  He had heard tales of such signs and knew better than to ignore them.  Grasping his fur tightly, he moved deeper within the mountain.  The damp air became warm as the walls of the grotto drew closer.  Eyes closed, he squeezed through a narrow opening thick with floating toadstools.  
When he finally burst through the last of the fungi, he was stunned.  Elm trees of ancient age had been woven into a living archway, roofed with summer leaves and broad enough for five men abreast.  The ground itself was rich with loam and smooth stone, intricately carved into what looked to be whorl leaf shapes, similar to those which decorated his face. Bow slung across his back and axe hanging from his belt, he ran his fingers along the ancient trees.  Alarielle’s song echoed in his ears as he stepped out from under the last sheltering bough.  
Before him lay a vale far too large to have been contained within the mountain itself.  Clear Ghyran sunlight shone upon immense cataracts cascading from a height unseen around an oasis of ancient oaks encompassing colossal sky islands.   More thundering waterfalls sprayed out buffeting clouds of vapor, which nurtured floating carpets of innumerable flowers, bell blossoms chiming in delicate tones.  A rainbow of birds flew above like brilliant jewels, as sedge-deer and other life approached him, unused to the presence of any man.  Every surface was covered with pure water and abundant life. Every surface that is, but one.  
The patterns continued down the path and ended at a courtyard; Petral felt compelled to follow. Stepping onto the polished stone space, he felt a jolt as the presence of Ghyran left him.  Colossal stone steps the color of aged bone stretched upwards before him, flanked by massive, banded walls.  Scrambling from ledge to ledge he finally came upon a wedge-shaped landing, outlined by carved pillars and shaded by an immense cupola.  Where two angled walls met, there was a solitary entrance.  The prince could hear the sounds of the vale, but he could no longer feel the song of Alarielle.  He strung his bow, then gripped his axe tightly and walked forward into the doorway.  The sound ceased abruptly, and Petral’s eyes swept left and right.  The entrance appeared to be connected to somewhere -- in fact, to many somewheres.  Silhouettes framed by uniquely colored light stood outlined in each other entrance ringing the space.  A susurrus of movement rose to fill the air, and the door behind him slammed shut.  All was darkness.    
A sibilant voice whispered in his ear.  “Welcome.”  Petral’s axe whipped through the air but found no target.
A raspy feminine voice boomed from in front of him  “Welcome to the Gibbering Dome.”
 The sun, set and rose, set and rose once more before Petral stumbled forth from the entrance.  Bleeding and holding his thigh for support he stopped to peer at the vale.  From the landing, his view of what he had climbed had changed.  The stones of the courtyard were now obviously stretching into the vale, and where the two made contact, there was a line of fine grey ash.  The path he had followed was not carved of leaves but of rib bones, and the ground was weeping emerald blood were they were half buried.  Scrambling down the steps, he sprinted over the courtyard back to the embrace of Ghyran.
Collapsing upon the loam, he rested for a time before he rose and inspected himself.  First, he removed his fur from his back, the verdant amethyst color had left, replaced by a lifeless brown, and the prince discarded it in the courtyard.  Checking his axe and bow, he was satisfied they had not been tainted.  Hands traced his throat, but the thorn-claw necklace was gone.  Foot twisting upon the loam, he turned to stare at that place.  As he watched, the building faded out of sight to be replaced by lifeless dried dirt and bare rock.  The path on which he stood buckled and cast the rib bones from itself as harvester beetles burst from the vale and set to work repairing the scars.  

Crushing a rib with his foot Petral started the long limp home.  He must return to the Gibbering Dome he knew, but this time with an army at his back.  


Thank you, Paul, for taking the time to share some lore and details about The Gibbering Dome!  While the event is currently full you can always jump on the waitlist or swing by Thursday to see some great Narrative gaming in action.  I plan to invite Paul back after Adepticon to do a follow-up post about the event so look forward to that in the future.

Until next week, Happy Hobbying!

Chuck Moore