Friday, April 13, 2018

The Gibbering Dome Impressions : Guest Post by Paul Wagner

Hey Everyone!  As promised I have Paul returning today to give his follow up about the Narrative event he ran at this year's Adepticon entitled The Gibbering Dome.  The event was a lot of fun and well planned out by Paul and I was very happy to have been able to assist him with the event.  The passion and dedication he put into the lore, build up, and resolution of the event is evident and I look forward to what he has in store for the next narrative, which could be Coalescence: The Desolation of Eristrat this June.

I was privileged enough to be able to run the Narrative Event at ACON this year.  I say privileged because the players that attended the Gibbering Dome embraced the narrative in a full and amazing way with their armies.  It is incredible what can happen when you have 16 players who all enter into a social agreement to simply spend the afternoon enjoying some Age of Sigmar.

Throwing out the requirements of matched play except for the purposes of army selection,  the only direction players were given before the event was some basic rules answers and the piece of fiction presented here in the first article.

The event started with all sixteen players gathered around a 4x4 board representing the center of the dome.  Each player placed their hero atop the central dais and was defeated.  This allowed all the players to do an introduction of themselves and their heroes to the whole group before they were assigned to one of 4 tables.  Narratively this allowed for each character to arrive at the Gibbering Dome as a young fighter, and as they were defeated, they lost an item precious to them.  This was the narrative hook for the rest of the event.  The characters spent untold years raising an army and then searching for the entrance to the Gibbering Dome once more.  

At this point, all players deployed their armies on an “entrance” table in a mixed deployment with all players at the table sharing the same deployment.  Unique rules represented the indoor environment as well as the controlling army (Daughters of Khaine) having corrupted the building itself.  Using Triumph and Treachery rules, players found their units attacking friend and foe due to bloodlust.  Players were also given the opportunity to ally with other heroes for the duration of the event.  One player chose to ally with the defending daughters instead! 

Players really engaged the unique rules to help tell their narrative, discussing army background with players at their tables and others.  The only objective of the event was for their hero to once more arrive and then ascend to the dais in the center of the Gibbering Dome to retrieve their artefact.   Their army became tools to their narrative, and even though heroes were able to die, due to the Khainite blood magic saturating the monument, they were raised again, but overcome with bloodlust and allowed to take revenge upon their chosen target.  If the hero had allied, they were required to attack the ally that failed to protect them! 

This bloodbath formed a royal rumble that allowed only strongest units to survive, for unlike the heroes, they were not resurrected upon their death.  However, units that were wounded and escaped of the far edge of the board gave a bonus to the heroes on the final table. 

Once the players arrived on the final table, they were faced with a full army of the Daughters of Khaine (with a special thanks to Chuck for providing the defending army.)  the heroes banded together to attack all but one of the massive staircases to the dais.  All that is except for the Nurgle player allied to the Daughters.  His general was allowed to pass unmolested up to the dais and recover his artefact!  However, upon arriving at the central dais, he betrayed the Hag Queen and summoned a Greater Demon of Nurgle in her place!  His general then beat a hasty retreat while the rest of the players were forced to fight not one but two armies to ascend to the center of the Gibbering Dome.  In the end, every player was able to recover their artefact and win the Scenario.  

If it all sounds a bit chaotic, you’d be right!  While the narrative thrust was very clear and concise, the actual execution of the scenario really encouraged the players to tell their own narrative, engage in a bit of revenge and really add to their story!  Chuck and I were making a few decisions on the fly to ensure that nothing got too bogged down, and everyone enjoyed the event.  It was fantastic to see every player smiling and enjoying Age of Sigmar from beginning to end!  I already have thoughts on how next year will improve.  But to finish off, I wrote a bit of narrative to conclude this moment in the Gibbering Dome’s history.

Daaniyah Duskblade, Worshipper of a Dead God, Sister to a lost Brother, Right Hand of the Cult and Queen Lost to Time peeled the congealed blood from her eyelids and peered upon her work.  Marble stairs bore lakes of crimson which dripped onto the tiled floor below.  Crumbled forms that were once loyal followers lay scattered within the interior of the dome.  Turning to the summit, she examined the remnants of the battle. The Slaughter Queen was dead and her blood magic had been broken.  The sacrifice was justified.  Overcome with the enormity of the moment, Daaniyah closed her eyes and let herself be consumed with her memories.

Shivergrass filled her senses, the smell, the susurrus of the motion, the feel of the sharp leaves upon her palms filled her with an ache for home. Lithely vaulting herself from a sitting position she settled into a loping saunter.  Quickening steps burst through the edge of the prairie and raced onto the paved surface of her city.  Salt tang and the smell of damp earth pleasantly stung her nostrils, spurring her faster still.  Feet following a familiar path, the aelf darted beneath crumbling brick arches built by ancient hands intertwined with thick bloodthorn vines to form a stable reconstruction of the glories of the empire lost to time.  Mandatory daily rites graced her family with agility and grace, but Alarielle held her heart here deep within the realm of life.   Even the Taylothian Cult of Khaine could not drown that in blood.  Footsteps echoed haphazardly through the town square as Daaniyah swerved to collect an offering to her Goddess; the viridescent blossoms growing within the bloodthorn.   With each thorn kiss upon her skin, the vines writhed tighter, strengthening temples and homes.  Rounding the corner, a sharp stop sent seeds spraying into the wind, their husks rattling with a musical quality as they were borne into the sky by the steady sea breeze.  With a reverent bow and silent prayer of thanks to the Goddess, she entered her home.  Right hand dripping blood, the aelf ritually cleansed the wounds in an exquisite brass Khainite basin.  Within her left hand the blossoms still quivered with life.  Liquid stilled as she sensed something was wrong and halted.  Cocking her ear she could hear… nothing.

There should be noise.  Daaniyah prowled into the next room, Khainite blade naked in her hand.   Overstepping the ruins of the family altar to Allarielle, she saw vines within the wall with fresh knife wounds that were weeping golden sap.  Screaming, fighting, even gibbering would have been more comforting than this, but as she reached her destination the silence only deepened.  Entering her brothers’ room, the usual meticulousness had been replaced by a haphazard jumble.  Her brother had been taken.  Forgotten blossoms fell from her hand to their death; consumed by crimson pools dotting the floor.  The blood rippled out and soaked the thorns of the wall.  As the vines tightened more, she desperately removed a worn journal from a crevice.  Bloodthorn groaned and crumbled brick began to fall from the ceiling.  The plants had been fed too much too quickly and Daaniyah was forced to flee, the only clue to Odiamh’s presence grasped in her bloodied palm.  

Steps faltering after a headlong run back to the shivergrass, Daaniyah stopped and opened the journal.  Riffling paper revealed coded entries, labeled only by dates in the upper right corner of each page.  Spine bent, the last entry lay unfinished, with a single jagged line to denote its interruption. Closing the book, the aelf noticed a white path leading into a courtyard, bare within the prairie; Daaniyah felt compelled to enter.  Stepping upon the cold lifeless stone, emptiness filled her as she felt the warmth of the Ghyran sunset recede.  Colossal stone steps the color of aged bone stretched upwards before her, flanked by massive, banded walls.  Lithely ascending step after step she 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.  Alone, she passed through the walls.
Rousing from her reverie, Daaniyah Duskblade’s voice echoed to what remained of her army.  “Prepare yourselves to leave this place, never to return!”  Twisting her mouth she turned and spat upon the crumbled remnants of the Slaughter Queen.  “It was not Khaine’s will but yours that trapped me here.  I tracked you who had taken my brother this far, but even with the years of searching lost, I will still find him.” She ranted on as her voice rose in intensity. “You cannot separate two sides of the same coin!” She began to carve a ragged sigil upon the last remnant of the hag’s flesh.  “It was Khaine’s will that I betrayed you to the Devotee of Nurgle.  Through this sigil may your soul writhe forever within Slaanesh’s grasp.”  Her hands finished their gory work and, turning her back upon her enslaver, she straightened and approached the center of the dais.  With a reverent gesture, she reached into the chest and finally laid her hand upon Odiamh’s journal once more. “I will find you my brother.”  she whispered to the dusty treasure.  Spinning upon her heel, she took the steps back to her sisters, grasping the book in her bloodied palm.  

Daaniyah Duskblade, the last hero, whispered a prayer to Khaine; a prayer for help in the quest for Odiamh, and passed the threshold of the Gibbering Dome.  The Slaughter Queen entered the shivergrass, and wiped her face clean of the dried blood.  She flung the crimson detritus into the air.  Pulling a coin from within her clothing, the desiccated flakes collected above the metal and pointed to the southeast.  When she replaced the coin within her belongings, the blood fell upon the earth and left a scorched hole within the prairie.  She had not lost only time in her search for her brother.  
Left within the marbled halls was nothing but death and filth, the detritus of battle, or so it seemed.  Even as Daaniyah Duskblade once again began her quest, a single soul began to plot within the malign monument.  Its’ battlelust was not sated, the doors would open again...


When Paul and I had our first hobby call so he could bounce his ideas off me as he fleshed out his event it was clear to me the event would be a great time.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy the game and played to the spirit of a narrative event to really take it to the next level.  Despite the busy room, everyone was focused on crafting their and the overall story.  When Paul took the seed of my idea to use my Daughters of Khaine as the "main" protagonist this year I was excited to see how he crafted my Aelves into his story.  When he asked later on to use my named characters (Daaniyah and Odiamh) in the recap and flesh out their story in the mortal realms I couldn't imagine the great piece of narrative he would write.  Paul certainly knows how to bring a story to life! I hope you all enjoyed Paul's recap and will join me in encouraging him to continue the story and bring the event back next year at Adepticon 2019!  Until next week, Happy Hobbying! 

Chuck Moore