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Subject: Can I fight a Shadow assaulting a stronghold instead of its Guardian? rss

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Berserker in peace
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As the title says, what happens if an avatar walks into a stronghold when a shadow is assaulting it? Can the avatar stop a shadow assaulting a stronghold by fighting it, without fighting the guardian?
Can the avatar choose not to reveal the well, but just to kill the shadow?
And after killing the shadow, can the avatar just leave the hex next on turn and continue on?
I don't seem to find reference to this situation. Many thanks!
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Jim Felli
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The short answer is: No.

You are also correct that the rulebook does not address this directly. Thank you for bringing it up: I will make a separate entry into the FAQ to address this issue. In the meantime, here's the way this works:

The guardians manifest to defend the Wells when creatures (e.g., avatars) enter the strongholds and cannot distinguish Light from Dark forces (see the Avatars of Aethos storyline in rule book from cover). As noted in 15d in the rulebook, Shadows do not cause Guardians to manifest. This is because Shadows are insubstantial, non-physical creatures (unless they are engaged combat for which they manifest physical form). There are two ways to address the situation if a Shadow is attempting to unseal a Well when the avatars enter the stronghold: Stronghold Defense or Well Defense.

Stronghold Defense
Play by the flavor the Guardians defend strongholds. This means that any creature entering the stronghold will be attacked by the Guardian. In this case, the Guardian will rise up and attack the avatars before they can reach the Well. The avatars will have to defeat the Guardian to be able to reach the Well. At this point, if the Shadow has not yet revealed Well, the avatars may engage the Shadow in combat. The shadow will manifest a physical form and normal combat will proceed. Note: the Shadow my only attempt to reveal the Well once per turn. Once the avatars enter the stronghold, they may fight the Guardian and the Shadow on the same turn (because defeating the Guardian and revealing the Well are all part of the same action – the presence of the Shadow merely complicates this process).

Well Defense
Play by the flavor the Guardians defend Wells. This means that any creature entering the stronghold will be attacked by the Guardian only once it finds the Well within. In this case, the Guardian will rise up and attack the avatars at the Well. Since the Shadow is already there, if the avatars attack the Shadow it will manifest a physical form and enter the fray. Now the fun begins! Each phase, roll for the Guardian's target -- it will randomly pick an avatar or the Shadow (basically, the Shadow is a new potential target for the Guardian). Each phase, roll for the Shadow's target -- it will randomly pick an avatar or the Guardian (basically, the Guardian is a new potential target for the Shadow). Each phase, the avatars choose which opponent they want to attack, the Guardian or the Shadow. If the avatars are the final survivors, they reveal the Well. If the Shadow is the final survivor, it goes back to its process of trying to reveal the Well. If the Guardian is the final survivor, we're back to a standard case.

My personal preference is to play Well Defense, but I think either flavor would make the game fun. Does this help with your question?
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Berserker in peace
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Wow. Thanks for the detailed explanation!

So it seems in either case, the avatars can actually take advantage of the situation, with certain risk of course, especially when they are not ready to take on both the Shadow and the Guardian in the same turn.
That is, the avatars can wait for the tough Shadow to enter the stronghold hex first and hope it will fail to reveal the Well this turn.
Then on the next turn the avatars rush in, triggering the Guardian, and start a big battle among the avatars, the Guardian and the Shadow.
And then the avatars withdraw immediately and leave the battle to the Guardian and the Shadow. The Shadow in a physical manifestation becomes a sole target for the Guardian and will not go back to its insubstantial form until either side is defeated.
If the Shadow wins (and the well is a dark one ... perhaps the avatars already know that in some way), it may already have suffered quite some damage from the Guardian, which makes it easier for the avatars to kill it on the next turn. Another plus is the avatars no longer have to worry about the Guardian there.
If the Guardian wins, well, then the immediate threat is removed and so the avatars can choose either going in the stronghold again, or leave for somewhere else for other business.

By the way it seems to me that the vigilant Guardians and the evil Shadows don't feel very different (though in my imagination they should) because they both come out from the same Creature Generator by the same mechanism. Do you think it is desirable to make them Guardians more distinguishable, e.g. different kinds or sets of abilities?
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Jim Felli
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ulfhethnar wrote:
That is, the avatars can wait for the tough Shadow to enter the stronghold hex first and hope it will fail to reveal the Well this turn. Then on the next turn the avatars rush in, triggering the Guardian, and start a big battle among the avatars, the Guardian and the Shadow. And then the avatars withdraw immediately and leave the battle to the Guardian and the Shadow. The Shadow in a physical manifestation becomes a sole target for the Guardian and will not go back to its insubstantial form until either side is defeated.

Correct -- but only if you are playing Well Defense. If you are playing Stronghold Defense you must defeat the Guardian before you ever reach the Shadow. And don't forget, the most efficient way to leave combat is random relocation, so you will (potentially) "lose a turn" regrouping to reform your band.


ulfhethnar wrote:
If the Shadow wins (and the well is a dark one ... perhaps the avatars already know that in some way), it may already have suffered quite some damage from the Guardian, which makes it easier for the avatars to kill it on the next turn.

True!


ulfhethnar wrote:
Another plus is the avatars no longer have to worry about the Guardian there.

Not quite. The Guardian will be dispatched if, as you say, the Well is revealed. If the Shadow suicides out tying to reveal the Well, the Guardian will respawn when the Well is next threatened by a physical creature.


ulfhethnar wrote:
If the Guardian wins, well, then the immediate threat is removed and so the avatars can choose either going in the stronghold again, or leave for somewhere else for other business.

If they decide to go after the Well, they will have to face a renewed Guardian (see Rule book 10j).


ulfhethnar wrote:
By the way it seems to me that the vigilant Guardians and the evil Shadows don't feel very different (though in my imagination they should) because they both come out from the same Creature Generator by the same mechanism. Do you think it is desirable to make them Guardians more distinguishable, e.g. different kinds or sets of abilities?

My vision is that the Guardian and Shadow both draw their physical forms based on the most available creature stock in the area (hence, creature type roll based off the Creature Generator) and that Abilities are essentially random mutations of that basic creature stock. Now, having said that, you can always make whatever house rules you like to alter the flavor of this particular element of the game. In fact, if you do I would love to see how you choose to address this!

Thanks for the great questions and engagement!
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