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The Hordes of Northreach

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Good morning blog folks! First I will get some news out of the way. This will be the last blog post for a few weeks. Between my day job and my impending marriage my time is in very short supply. I’ll be back in mid March with a new blog post and hopefully a ton more progress to share!

This week I wanted to talk about the first planned story campaign for Anthems of War. The Hordes of Northreach. First, I want to talk about campaigns in general in Anthems of War. Campaigns come in two flavors. The main book ships with all the rules for what I am calling freeform campaigns. In a freeform campaign you build a large force of characters and then choose which ones you would like to deploy in each scenario. You and your opponent may have 20 to 30 characters built but may end up only deploying a fraction of them. The goal of a freeform campaign is to reach a number of victory points before your opponent. You can also spend those victory points to replenish your forces and upgrade the veterans of battles. When things get desperate you may have to deploy some of your injured characters to bolster your forces. I am super happy how this campaign system is laid out and can’t wait for people to get their hands on it. I hope this system allows people to build their own worlds and their own lore for their games and expand their games in the same way a group expands a homebrew campaign and world in a pen and paper RPG.

This leads me to the other type of campaign I have built and the subject of this blog. Story campaigns. Story campaigns in Anthems of War follow a similar set of rules laid out in the Campaigns section of the main book. Where it differs is that I use these books as my playground for new rules concepts, for expanding the lore of the ‘default’  world of Anthems of War and eventually for releasing new supplemental products like tokens, cardboard standees, terrain and eventually, fully sculpted minis. Where this is the first story campaign I wanted to do something simple and make sure I get all of the details down for how I will build these in the future. The Hordes of Northreach story, told 75 years after the introduction of the short story of the main book, is a singleplayer set of rules where you lead a force of humans against a horde of undead and the necromancer lord controlling them. In it, bard retell a month and a half period where the undead ravaged the countryside of the kingdom of Rivilia. Depending on how your battles turn out you move through a branching campaign, experiencing the story in different ways. Think of it like a choose your own adventure book, with scenarios branching in multiple different paths. I’d love to see people go back and play this different ways to get different results or even playing specific scenarios after they have completed their first or second run through of the campaign.

But wait! Didn’t I say this was a singleplayer campaign? The biggest challenge of this campaign book, other than writing a branching story with multiple endings that all make sense both as a progression of events and thematically, is how to control the enemy forces. I’ve been working through different methods for this and I feel like one piece is making it slightly easier for me, the opposing force is the undead. It makes sense for zombies and lesser skeletons to mindlessly follow their own internal looping logic. With some of the more complex characters, like the Lich King of Sorvenkor and his lieutenants, called Deadspeakers, I imagine I will have to build a much more complex set of rules around what they can and can not do, how they work together, how to bring out their own individual personalities and how they react to different outside influences, like being surrounded, having the upper hand in a specific conflict and so on. I also want players to be able to take lessons learned from this campaign book and bring it back into their main Anthems of War games so they can fight other forces using the singleplayer rules. These rules are coming along and they reflect a big portion of what I want to do with the campaign books. Not only do I want to share the story of the world I built (the actual physical world where Anthems of War takes place actually still needs a name) but I want folks to be able to build on the core rulebook with the concepts I present in supplemental material. I’ve got a lot in here and I really want to make sure I spend the time to get these addons perfect. I’ve got 4 books planned so far, The Hordes of Northreach, The Stones of Ancients, Songs of the Lightheart, and Clash of Empires. I also have 4 rough ideas set out for my eventual Anthems of War Sci-fi expansion, but those are too far in the future to talk about right now!

That’s all for today! See you folks in a few weeks! As always, links in the footer. Join the discord, follow the facebook group, follow my instagram account and let’s make sure we get the word out before the zombies bust down our doors and we all become slaves of the ancient evil of Sorvenkor.

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