As the release date draws near, Loopy has returned with another article about Narrative gaming in the new Age of Sigmar. This week, the topic focuses on the environments you can use in your games.
The new Age of Sigmar extrapolates on some of the fun rules for the realms that existed here and there throughout different supplements in the range and applies them to a much broader array of cool themes. The new core rulebook has also streamlined the rules for terrain for a more pleasing experience in your games. First, let’s discuss the latter.
Generic Terrain Rules
The generic terrain rules are covered under the Battle Rounds (Movement Phase) and Attacking (Cover) sections of the rulebook.
If you’re thinking narratively, you shouldn’t even need much guidance for movement over terrain. Models must count any vertical height of a terrain feature when they traverse it. For example, a model that runs 12” over a 4” tall wall must subtract 8” from their movement (4” up and 4” down”). Of course, nothing is stopping from going around terrain as well, but if your base is too big to fit through a space, you must traverse whatever vertical distance is in your way. For example, a Glottkin might not fit in between the trees of a Sylvaneth Wood, so the extra distance up and over a tree would represent the Glottkin having to shove its way through the dense thicket.
Of course, you may not want to precariously perch your lovingly-painted Glottkin on top of your friend’s Sylvaneth Wood. There are no official rules to adjudicate this, but common sense says to simply mark the intended location of a model in this precarious position with some kind of marker and leave it as close to that spot as possible until it can move again.
As for cover, it’s a lot more abstract. The entire base of every model in your unit must be within cover in order for you to claim a save bonus and this bonus cannot be applied to Monsters or War Machines.
You and your opponent can, of course, use a more immersive method of applying cover if you’re both of a mind to. You could say, for example, that if any model is partially covered by terrain (50% or so), that model could claim the save bonus. You aren’t even bound to providing a mere +1 to saves. If you believe a piece of terrain that is especially lush or hardened, you may want to increase the bonus to +2.
The rules for Obstacles are located under the terrain section. These rules state that specific warscrolls will indicate whether a feature is an Obstacle or not. I strongly recommend (not just for narrative play) that any impeding feature be considered an Obstacle if it is of sufficient height, such as a thick shrubbery, wall, or ruin.
Scenery Special Rules
There are six different special rules for scenery which can be randomly generated using the Scenery Table located in the Terrain section of the core rules. The random generation method is actually good for a narrative that drives itself. When randomly generating special rules from the Scenery Table, you may not want to place the terrain right away. What I might do in this situation is roll on the table first, then pick a terrain feature that best fits that special ability, and keep doing that until you feel as if there’s enough terrain on the battlefield. You may see a story develop before your very eyes simply by the nature of the kinds of terrain features that end up filling the battlefield.
If you already have your terrain set up, then you’re probably better off chatting with your opponent about what special rules govern each piece of terrain and assigning them as you see fit.
Of course, Age of Sigmar includes many different terrain warscrolls that you can use in your games. The Azyr app includes many that might not be produced anymore, but there’s nothing stopping you from using them for one of your custom terrain features.
Although the Scenery Table is a bit more forgiving than it once was, you may still wish to come up your own unique rules for terrain features. This is a great way to start the creative juices flowing. Many of the best narrative ideas are inspired by an intriguing piece of lovingly-crafted terrain.
Realms of Battle
Of course, the big news for the Battlefields in the new edition of Age of Sigmar are the new Realms of Battle rules. Just reading through these sections are enough to get your creative juices flowing.
As with the terrain, you may wish the narrative to tell itself by randomly determining the Realmscape Feature you are using during your battle, or even the Realm itself. However, if you’re trying to craft a specific narrative, then it might be best for the players to work together to determine which Features will be used at each stage of the campaign. You may even wish for the Realmscape Feature to change during a game. For example if you’re playing a battle on the Realm of Life that just happens to be happening during the great Necroquake caused by Nagash, don’t be afraid to apply one of the Shyish Realmscape Features when the event occurs.
During a narrative, you can represent an ambush by allowing one of the players to choose the Realmscape Feature (or even the Realm itself) used in your battle. This might even be a good balance for the Triumphs mechanic by allowing the player who lost the last game to be the ambusher.
Of course, as you’re reading through the Realms of Battle, you may be inspired to come up with your own rules that better fit your own narrative. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as your opponent is keen to follow you down that rabbit hole.
More to Come
Of course, we can probably expect the General’s Handbook, White Dwarf, and other future campaign releases to have much more to say about narrative battlefields in the Age of Sigmar. I’d like to hear more about how you’re using terrain in your stories. Please drop a comment below and let us know.
Want more Narrative Play discussion? You can read our previous article talking about the stories you can tell with the new edition and we’ll soon be publishing a third article discussing the ways to play presented in the new core rules.
Narrative Gaming in the Age of Sigmar discusses the stories you can tell with the new edition and how the lore has developed over time.
Age of Sigmar Narrative Gaming – Assembling a Bespoke Campaign discusses how to create a campaign using the tools provided for the new Age of Sigmar.
Also, please be sure to check out the Masters of the Forge. We’re the podcast that brings the rich lore of Warhammer 40,000 to life on your tabletop.
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