If the IMTel can be described as one thing, inquisitive would certainly be a leading contender. With the landing on Xilos successful, the opportunity to learn more about the planet jugged at the binary circuits a whole Builder world to explore and learn it’s secrets. Biological algorithms returned as unacceptable the risk of leaving the secrets of the planet behind should they need to evacuate. Military level intelligence passed from the Algoryn to the Concord indicated the higher activity density regions of the new enemy, the Ghar.
As with the majority of information shared to a shard, it was not long until a decision had been made for a couple of survey teams to be dispatched. The small number of troops being dispatched reflected the current tactical situation as only limited number of armed Strike Teams could be made available.
With news of Ghar movement the small force was recalled. Limited information was recovered, but even a little information can lead to an advantage this small success was due to one of the recon drones returning alone. Along with many mundane pictures of vegetation, rock formations and small mammals, it carried back a shocking image.
Telemetry patched through from the missing survey team’s recorder probe suggested the ‘creature’ had been moving underground with reasonable velocity. Once the beacon within the probe had become stationary the IMTel had a decision. Retrieve the probe and risk further casualties. Or risk the data collected from the probe from being exploited by the recent arrival of mercenary Freeborn or Boromites. As risk adverse as the IMTel is, the risk to not collecting the survey probe was too great, the loss of vital information could not be permitted. A small team was assembled and dispatched to make the recovery.
However this was not before wind of the potential bounty had fallen on inquisitive ears…
Running a game
This game can be played between two players without an umpire, in which case the players resolve the movement and attacking for the native fauna as necessary.
Forces of any faction can be used, as all factions have become aware of the survey probes plight, by fair means or foul, or perhaps inadvertently.
Such a game is recommended for 50 point forces, although players may choose to increase this to 75.
Place three craters (no larger than 3” in diameter) at the centre of the table. For each crater roll a D10 and move the crater a number of inches equal to the number rolled and in the direction made by the D10’s natural arrow. Repeat this for all craters. If two or more craters end up within 5” of another crater, repeat this process of scattering the crater again, until all the craters have a gap of at least 5” between themselves. These craters are nests made by the Gulper and form a crater rim obstacle.
Set up the rest of the terrain as described in Playing the Game in Rules Central leaving the area within 5” of each crater clear as Gulpers do not like to have their nests cramped. Ideally, the rest of the terrain should afford each side the opportunity to approach the objective nest craters without exposing themselves to too much enemy fire.
A single, distinctive Creature Event Dice is required until the Gulper is destroyed (see Playing the Game). Three numbered counters need to be randomly placed, face down with number hidden, on each of the nest craters. This way neither player knows which numbered counter is on which nest crater.
The two forces enter the table from the opposing short table edges. Roll randomly to determine which player starts from which edge. In the first turn both sides can bring up to half of their force onto the table. Remaining forces can be brought on at the same edge from the second turn, making a Command test to enter in the usual manner as described in the Playing the Game. The Gulper is not placed on the table at the start of the game.
The objective is to reach the nest craters, and roll to discover if the Concord survey drone has been deposited there. If found it can be carried by a unit and recovered back to its own table edge.
Secondary objectives are to take the Gulper eggs for research/trade purposes.
The game ends immediately if either side carries the survey drones off its base edge. However, if time is pressing the game can also be played until one side reaches its break value or until six turns have elapsed, then roll randomly to see if another turn is to be played as described in Playing the Game.
If one side gets the survey drone off its own base edge the game ends immediately and that side wins. If neither side achieves this by the end of the game, total up the number of victory points as noted below. The player with the highest accumulation of Victory Points at the end of the game is the winner. If neither side can claim victory the result is a draw.
- Have the survey drone in possession at end of the game (but not off table): Concord/Isorian = 5VP; Algoryn, Freeborn, Boromite, Isorian, Ghar = 3VP
- For each Gulper Egg in possession at end of game: Freeborn, Boromite, Ghar = 2VP; Concord/Isorian/Algoryn = 1VP
- Being responsible for the death of the Gulper: Concord/Isorian/Algoryn/Freeborn = 3VP; Ghar, Boromite = 2VP
- Each enemy unit destroyed = 1VP; Ghar 2VP
Special Scenario Rules
There are a couple of special rules for the Gulper, Eggs, Hatchlings and crater nests.
Discovering the survey drone
The first time a unit crosses into the centre of a crater nest (the crater rim being an obstacle) roll a D3 and note the result. The player turns the numbered counter in that crater nest over: if the number on the D3 matches the numbered counter the survey drone has been discovered, place an appropriate marker to represent the survey drone, then remove the remaining counters; otherwise, remove the counter just revealed. If only a single counter is left, then replace it with the survey drone.
Carrying Survey Drones
The survey drones are carried objectives. Refer to Playing the Game for details of carried objectives.
A unit with at least one model within the boundary of the crater rim of a crater nest may announce it is “Recovering Eggs”. This involves a successful Rally Action before rolling to Recover Eggs. Once the Rally action is complete the unit makes an Ag test: Add 1 to the Ag of the unit for each and every member of the unit that is completely within the crater nest (so a unit of 5 Strike Troopers with 3 members within the crater nest = Ag 5 + 3 = 8). If the test is successful the unit has retrieved a Gulper egg, carries it as for Carried Objectives, and has Recovered one Egg.
A force may recover multiple eggs.
Creature Event DiCe
When it is drawn, players roll for control of the Creature Event Dice as described in Playing the Game except they should add the number of Recovered Eggs in their fore to their D10 result (6 eggs = +6: mamma don’t like it when you steal her babies…).
- If the result is a draw, the Gulper momentarily retreats back into the ground. Check again next turn.
- If either player rolls a 10 for the test, place a Hatchling in a random crater nest. The Hatchling acts this turn, immediately after the Gulper, and has the stats for a Drummer.
If a Creature Event die is drawn immediately after a Ghar Distort Dice, the Gulper burrows underground for this turn, ready to re-emerge next turn. Any Hatchlings will just stay stationary for the turn.
You may note that having control of the Dangerous Fauna probably doesn’t feel like you are actually controlling them, but that’s alien intellect for you.
A Gulper is a massive predatory subterranean beast found on Xilos and outlined in the Universe Guide. Killing the Gulper in this game is not mandatory, but may help your faction win the game. Players may feel inclined to assist each other to kill this mighty beast, but such informal treaties are oft short lived fleeting affairs.
If the gulper is underground or has not yet appear, the controlling player may choose a nest (one of the craters) in which it appears. Any non-suspensored unit within 5″ of a gulper’s sudden appearance suffers 1D3 pins from the shaking, erupting ground. The gulper then follows the creature control guidelines, including Assault-ing a nearby ‘hostile’ – which may mean it has to attack the controlling players own unit.
If a gulper loses an Assault, it consolidates by burrowing back underground: remove it from the table, otherwise it remains on the table until forced back underground.
If the Gulper is destroyed, the unit that caused the killing blow scores the appropriate Victory Points.
Hatchlings are snappers (see the Universe Guide) and are moved immediately after the gulper moves, by the player who has control. They also follow the rules for moving creatures as outlined in Playing the Game. If players are unlucky, there will be several groups of hatchlings running around!”