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Thornwatch» Forums » Variants

Subject: Custom Scene: Drowning in the Depths rss

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Disclaimer: This content is 100% unofficial. Lore and abilities are not canon. I'm just making stuff up.

Edit: You can now download this scene as a PDF to print and play here.

One of the things I love about Thornwatch is its easy customizability. Enemies and scenes are modular and self contained, making it fast and easy to create new content. The game also has a nice set of mechanics to tinker with. I love tinkering with games, and my gaming group needed some more content after running through most of the print-and-play, so I decided to see what I could come up with.

Custom Scenes: Enemy + Map + Mechanic = Fun

It's easy to create a custom scene in Thornwatch: pick an enemy or two, put down some map tiles, and pick a goal and special mechanic for the scene.

New Enemy: The Driven



The vine-propelled bones of the Driven
Erupt from sins still unforgiven
A raspy voice croaks
From the tattered one's cloaks:
"If you ain't dead, man, you ain't livin'."

-- Mike Selinker

Driven Momentum card. Art by Mike Krahulik.


Besides the print and play, we have a few other pieces of Thornwatch art and lore to learn about the gameworld. We have a pic of the Momentum cards, which contain two factions not present in the print-and-play: the Lookouts and the Driven. I decided to create the Driven.

From what little we know, the Driven are vine-propelled shambling horrors. They're created "from sins still unforgiven". What if once created they capture and drown victims to create more of themselves? Their goal is to drag everyone into their angry memory of sin.

Driven Stat Block



Text version:

• -1 Momentum adjustment (Driven cards move to the right when Momentum is resolved each round, closer to the edge)
Attack - Slug: Melee d10-1 d10-1 + Call of the Depths (see below)

Slow: A Driven must spend both its action and its move to move one space.

Tough: -d10-1 (that's "subtract one die") on attacks against a Driven.

Eternal: When a Driven pawn would be killed, the attacker rolls d10-1. On failure, the Driven pawn remains in play. (Yes, I am channeling my inner Necron here devil}

Here the Driven are basicaly tar pits meant to slow the heroes down. They're slow, but tough to get rid of. I decided to try something different and give them a *negative* Momentum adjustment - this is different from all of the enemies included in the print-and-play. Most enemies 'bounce back' up the Momentum track when killed, so the players cannot simply keep the monster on the edge and kill them repeatedly. With Driven, however, they _can_. A party that coordinates and plans gets a reward because they could kill many Driven in one round. The Driven's Tough and Eternal abilities still give them a chance to survive. Combine this with the Judge spell Ebb Stitching to lessen any damage dealt (pay 2 Ebb to subtract 1 damage) and the Driven still have combat staying power. It provides an interesting and different mechanic for players to figure out and work around.

I surveyed my players and they did not feel like the Driven were *too* annoying to deal with

Driven Status Effect: Call of the Depths



Call of the Depths: When you receive damage from a Driven attack, roll d10-1. On failure, place this card under your pawn as a Status Effect. Status Effect: You cannot move this turn.

This simulates how the Driven operate - thick swamp vines pulling new victims to their doom. The Thornwatch are ghostly heroes, of course, and so such evil magic only slows them down (in Thornwatch, Status Effects disappear at the end of the round). But regular humans: look out!

New Scene: Drowning in the Depths

Combining the theme of the Driven we have an adventure seed: the Thornwatch are summoned to help someone in danger of drowning and becoming a Driven themselves!

--

You are summoned by the Canopy Knot - for when hope is just out of reach. You spy two Lookouts. One on shore - the tier of knots - pleads and points to the deep bog. There a second Lookout struggles and splashes just under the surface, where a gurgling, shambling form bubbles in the murk.

Map



Here the Thornwatch have to reach the victim in time.

Scene Rules

• Use the Driven enemy. Place a number of Driven pawns equal to the number of heroes + 1.

• Place one Lookout pawn in the rightmost ebb tile. Place a Call of the Depths status effect on the Lookout pawn.

• Places six objective tokens beside the map. On each Lookout turn, if the Lookout has Call of the Depths, roll d10-1. On success, remove one objective token.

• Call of the Depths is not removed from the Lookout on its own. When in the same space as the Lookout, a hero that does not have Call of the Depths can use their action to remove Call of the Depths from the Lookout.

• When there are no more objective tokens, or when all Driven are defeated, the scene ends.

--

Thornwatch victory: If all Driven are defeated, the scene ends in Thornwatch victory.

Denied their prize, the bodies of the Driven cease their movement and slowly sink back into the swamp. They lay quiet for now.

--

Thornwatch defeat: If all objective tokens are removed from the board, the scene ends in Thornwatch defeat.

The Lookout wails and dives into the water, reaching desperately for their friend. Around you the world fades...


--

And that's it! It's that easy to create a Thornwatch adventure.

I've only playtested this for a couple of hours, but my gaming group enjoyed it. Definitely post if you give it a try, and I welcome any feedback. You can download this scene as a PDF to print and play here.
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If anyone is interested in the design process: first I dreamt up a theme for the Driven as slow, swamp-dwelling kidnappers. I then created mechanics to match. My first attempt at enemy design was *awful* - far too many rules, tokens, and things to keep track of. Even some cursory playtesting showed it was much too slow and complex.

I went back through the Thornwatch print-and-play and compared mechanics. I also went through everything I could gather on the team's design goals. This streamlined a lot. No math, no remembering anything, and always make use of existing mechanics so there is no confusion about what to roll. I only used one enemy type in this scene because the enemy has a lot of rules to remember.

I like rolling to remove objective tokens because it's never guaranteed. This adds suspense - the players never know *when* they'll run out of time. Do they gamble and fight the monsters right away, or try to go around?

Also: the Thornwatch area tiles are nicely designed in that the shapes fit together well. There are three unique shapes and they're all proportional - rectangles are half height of the square, corners have the same width as a rectangle, etc. This allows easy mixing and matching to create custom maps of many different shapes. It's good attention to detail.
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Update: Okay, so shortly after I posted this the Thornwatch team released official rules and stats for the Driven (thanks for the extra content, team! ). Unsurprisingly, their stats are different than the ones I made up

To make things less confusing I will rename my enemy to something else, like 'The Culled'. I still think the idea of a slow but tough tarpit makes for an interesting and challenging enemy.

I have submitted a PDF for this scene to BGG, so everything can be contained in a single package and is easy to download, print, and play. I'll update the post with a link once/if it gets approved.
 
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I added a brief session report for one of the scene playtests here.
 
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