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Fear of the Dark
Fear of the Dark
Rules for Night Fighting in Mordheim
By Donato Ranzato
In the Night
Most people take it for granted that battles are fought during daylight hours, and so get a
clear view of the battlefield, thereby giving them plenty of unrealistic reconnaissance in
order to move troops into certain positions and launch pre-emptive strikes. In reality,
there were, of course, battles fought in daylight and for very good reasons, troops could
see what they were fighting and their comrades-in-arms could also see them fighting,
thereby allowing them to heap up large amounts of glory and honour in the eyes of their
peers. But night attacks were not altogether uncommon and in the Warhammer World
this is even more the case when there are so many races that are naturally nocturnal. The
Chaos Dwarfs live in dark caverns and lava pits, the Dark Elves relate to the night as their
element, Vampires and most active at night as are Necromancers and Skaven have perfect
night vision. Even Dwarfs, working in deep mines, feel quite at home in the dark. The
elements of surprise, Fear and Terror are enhanced many times in the dark and so,
armies such as Skaven, Undead and Dark Elves would choose generally to arrange night
attacks when their enemies are at their most vulnerable (especially Humans and Elves).
This article suggest additional, optional rules for battles by night, a few scenarios with
objectives, Night Stalkers who haunt the battlefields after dark, and for the criminally
insane, away of simulating night on the actual battlefield tabletop.
The Old World after Dark
The night holds many terrors for the inhabitants of the Old World. In the provinces of the
Empire, mothers tell stories to their children of the fiends who stalk their human prey
after dark, of Vampires and Ghouls who roam cemeteries and cross-roads preying upon
travellers. The High Elves recite tales of Night Trolls and restless spirits while the Orcs
speak of 'Woodz Wachez'. Almost every race is unsettled during the hours of darkness.
Travellers stop at inns for the night, whilst those who must continue on their journey
usually do so in large numbers, carrying talismans of purity and light and avoiding those
places where nocturnal creatures wait to drag their screaming prey into their lairs. But
there are those who greet the night with celebration; the Dark Elves, the Skaven and the
forces of Undead to name but a few. Battles often occurred by night, during the wars
against the Skaven, the Bretonnians had to withstand countless night raids and so created
weapons and armour which glowed with radiance, while during the wars of the Vampire
Counts, the battles were fought mainly at night, this time for attack chosen by the
Vampire Lords, who were strongest during the hours of darkness.
These are the rules that I've used to simulate night battles:
The Rules of the Dark
1) Terror: Because it is difficult to see, the range for the effects of Terror is reduced to
4", but because of the sounds associated with Terror causing creatures (e.g. the flapping
of a Dragon's wings or the hiss of a malevolent Wraith) and the natural eeriness of being
in the dark, there is a modifier of -2 Ld for Terror tests. Although this quite obviously
makes anything which causes Terror pretty nasty indeed! I felt that monsters, such as
Manticores, should be even more frightening charging out of the gloom or silhouetted in
a murky half-light.
2) All missile weapons firing at standard range are at -1 to hit, and at long range -2 to hit.
3) All psychology tests - Panic, Fear, etc. - are taken with a -1 modifier to Ld. This
represents the increased unease of combatants in the dark (note Terror is at -2 Ld).
4) Fighters with all types of bows have the option of using Flaming arrows . However
some restrictions do apply. The model moves at -1 to its movement since braziers have to
be carried in order to light the arrows. Each model using flaming arrows costs an
additional point. All attacks from flaming arrows count as flammable attacks and will
cause double wounds on flammable creatures. Any arrow that hits a Skaven Warpfire
thrower will cause it to blow up on the roll of a 4+ on a D6, even if no wounds have been
caused, as the fuel tank is ruptured and ignites.
5) Creatures immune to psychology will be unaffected by darkness modifiers for Ld tests
and will not flee faster. They simply shrug off the eerie effects of the darkness.
6) The range of Line of Sight spells is a maximum of 20". Wizards attune their eyes by
magic to the dark and so can see more clearly when spellcasting than other troops.
Wizards can still see beyond 20" but the accuracy of their spells would be in question and
so they do not risk casting spells too far in fear of hitting their own troops or setting fire
to a few trees, thus giving themselves away.
7) All cavalry charges may add +1 to combat resolution, representing the visual and
psychological impact of a cavalry charge from out of the gloom.
8) Some troops are nocturnal creatures and have excellent night vision and so are not
affected to these rules. Skaven, Night Goblins, Trolls, Vampires and Dark Elves can all
see in the dark naturally. Dwarf miners and Chaos Dwarfs have adapted their eyes to
darkness and acquired a form of night vision and undead has supernatural sight. Some
monster have night vision, including Manticores, Griffons, Hippogriffs and Swarms.
Daemons can see in the dark as if it was day! These races/creatures are able to ignore the
effects of the dark which are concerned with psychology, spells and missile fire. It is
suggested, when fighting a race that is not hampered by the dark, that an allowance of
100 GC be made to the player disadvantaged, to maintain the balance (unless, of course,
it is a specific scenario).
Battles by Moonlight
The Scenarios presented in the Mordheim Rule Book can be used with the above
modifications, but here is a short list of some others which relate more to battles at night.
One warband has been given the commission to escort an important Dignitary to a certain
destination. A Reikland warband may be escorting a Priest of Sigmar to an important
shrine, the Skaven may be escorting a disabled Grey Seer to a Wyrdstone mine.
However, because the enemy is close behind and shadowing them, the warband must
continue to travel without rest, by night, even through dangerous territory to reach their
destination. Before arriving there, they find that their way is blocked by a large part of the
pursuing warband. Battle begins at nightfall and to the defending warband it is paramount
that the VIP survives.
Objective: The VIP should be represented in an appropriate way. He must be taken to the
opposite side of the battlefield. He may only be represented on foot and cannot ride a
mount of any kind. The VIP must pass through to the other side of the battlefield and
survive in order for the objective to be completed. The enemy must obviously prevent
this from happening. The VIP may be any type of character apart from the warband
Deployment: As usual, but the side escorting the VIP sets up last, as opposition is
already deployed blocking the escape route the VIP's warband was following.
Game length: 5 turns to complete.
Victory: Unless the VIP is killed or escorted safely to the other table edge, then use the
standard Victory points system otherwise, it's quite obvious!
One warband with an affinity to darkness has decided to attack the enemy while it
slumbers. Of course, the sentries will spot their mass deployment and the planned attack
but it will be too late. The attacker deploys after the defender and the attacker takes the
first turn.
Deployment: As usual.
Scenery: Will be the same as usual - but the defender may place D6 makeshift huts or
tents within his deployment zone to represent his camp, after all Scenery has been placed.
Game length: 5 turns.
Victory points: Use the standard system.
One warband decides to march on an enemy settlement during the night. The opposing
warband is residing within a abandoned church and has not posted any guard. The
attacking warband arrives somewhat exhausted after a long march but charges in
immediately. The defenders hear the warband approaching and are able to prepare
Deployment: 12" from flanks, 24' from defender's deployment zone. The attacker
deploys first and takes the first turn.
Scenery: The scenery is determined in the usual way.
Game length: 5 turns. However, because the attackers spent most of the night travelling,
the attack comes near dawn and so only the first 3 turns of each side are fought under
night-time conditions. The last 2 turns are fought under standard conditions.
Victory points: These are as usual, plus there is + 1 victory point for each attacking unit
within the boundaries of the village at the end of the last turn.
Stalkers in the Darkness
The Old World is haunted by many strange and fabulous beasts. Many are bound by
sorcery to fight in battles, many are allied to a just and noble cause and others to the
forces of Chaos. There are those, however, who owe no allegiance to any master and who
simply exist to plague the living. Joyless beings devoid of remorse and full of hatred,
such denizens stalk the moonlit moors, the darkened, dusty roads and the foreboding
forests throughout the Old World. Little is known of such creatures, many are shadows of
the past when the world was still young and in its primal state.
However, they have remained enshrined in the legends and fairy tales of the Old World
and when battles are fought in the dead of night these creatures are lured to the smell and
the sounds of the wounded and the dying.
If you wish to include Night Stalkers in your night battles, roll a D3 at the start of the
battle to determine the number that are attracted to the battlefield.
Then roll a D6 to determine which Night Stalkers are present:
1-2 Night Troll
3-4 Nightmare
5 Black Hag
6 Grendel
Randomly select a piece of scenery for each Night Stalker to start within 2" of.
Every movement phase, the Night Stalkers will move 2D6" in a random direction (in a
similar fashion to Chaos Spawn, using the scatter dice). The exception is the Nightmare
which moves 3D6". Upon contact with any model (with the exception of each other),
each Night Stalker has special rules about the consequences...
A Night Stalker may end up moving through an entire unit, in which case every model it
touches is affected! The Night Stalkers are so sudden, not to mention terrifying, that they
cannot be attacked by any means and simply blend back into the darkness, so they cannot
be targeted by missiles or spells.
Night Troll
These terrifying creatures are similar in appearance to their kin the Stone Trolls but of a
much darker complexion, Clad in tattered rags and adorned in the bones of their victims,
these Trolls seek the flesh of the living on which to feed. They are attributed in myth to
utter a deep guttural sound, akin to mocking laughter before they tear their Prey to pieces.
Should any man-sized model be unfortunate enough to stumble across a Night Troll it
seizes its victim with large brutish clawed hands, bellows a laugh and rends its hapless
prey to pieces. The model must roll under its Strength in order to break free or else be
torn limb from limb and suffer D6 wounds with no save! Only the strongest and most
durable opponents will survive but if they do they will have to take a panic test. The
Troll, after attacking the victim, will not stop but will continue to move and eat until or
unless the victim can break free.
I used a Troll model on a standard base, painted dark brown and grey (alternatively you
could use a Chaos Spawn template).
The first sounds that are heard are the thundering of hooves and then out of the gloom a
ghostly steed emerges, spitting fire from its nostrils, eyes blazing with incandescent light
and snorting a terrible, haunting cry. Charging recklessly at anything in its path, the steed
vanishes into the darkness as suddenly as it appeared. Anyone charged by the steed
suffers a S5 hit which counts as a chill attack (see Wraiths), the effects of which last until
the end of the next turn. Units hit by the Nightmare must take a panic test. I used the
model of a black steed and painted it with glowing red eyes (or you could use the
Black Hag
Known by many names, the Black Hag has an unquenchable hunger for flesh. Straggly
hair as black as pitch contrasts with pale skin and the flayed hides of her victims that
hang about her in the parody of human clothing, the Hag stalks her victims and attacks
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