Orenda Playtest

Orenda is a word that means "spiritual energy" in the Huron (Wyandot) language, and has often been used to refer to gods and spirits in the Iroquois tribes as well. Although any divine spirit could correctly be referred to as Orenda, the name is most commonly used to refer to the Creator or Great Spirit, or, among Christian Iroquois people, to God.

Stone Coat represented by a WOTC figure.
Stone Coat is the name of a mythological rock giant of the Iroquois-speaking tribes. In some tribal traditions there is only one Stone Coat, while in others, there is a whole race of them. Stone Coats are described as being about twice as tall as humans, with their bodies covered in rock-hard scales that repel all normal weapons. They are associated with winter and ice, and they hunt and eat humans. In some legends Stone Coats were once human, and became cannibal monsters as a curse punishing them for evil deeds, like the Windigos of Chippewa mythology. In other legends Stone Coats were never human, but were a tribe of primordial man-eating monsters created by one of the sons of the creator, Flint.

This time our playtest took a huge leap forward in our estimation. It was good to finally get the close combat put to rest and move ahead with something that better represented the game we are trying to create. We added three major things for this playtest and we had a great time playing the game.

This group collects a "Furs" marker.
1. We added "Furs" markers to the game. Each player sets out three "Furs" markers before the game starts. These markers represent traps, caches, supplies or simply some medicinal herbs that the Shaman wants collected. What they actually are doesn't matter as much as that they now become a goal to collect in game terms. What the markers represented would then be determined in the between the games session and used in improving your Warband. However, they can also be used to determine who wins the game.

2. We added Magic or Orenda to the game. So far we have six simple spells made up and a simple spell system which we tested and it underwent some tweaking during the game. We did enjoy the element that this system brought to the game and it worked very well. For those that are wargaming purists this system can be totally left out of the game and you would never miss it. For those that would like to add the fantastical element of Native American Mythology to your games then you will enjoy this system.
The Shaman, supported by a group, works his Orenda.

Using Orenda in the game can only be done by the Shaman. Shamans have a CV of two and an Orenda Value of three. The Shaman and his use of Orenda in the legendary pre-contact period is considered to be very ritualistic. It requires chanting and dancing which then build up of mystical energy before a Shaman can utilize this energy to create a spell. Also, it requires a Shaman with experience in Orenda to actually realize that he has enough energy built up to actually create a spell and then use it appropriately. So in game terms the Shaman cannot move or attack or be attacked while performing his ritual. He is generally left at the back of the table in a relatively secure area to work his Orenda. Once he has enough power built up he must choose which spell to cast and then he must make a successful Orenda roll of three or less on a d6 to successfully create his spell. If his Orenda roll is not successful then the spell is not used up but rather the Shaman has not realized he has enough power built up or he is lost in his chanting and dancing and continues to grow more power for other spells. 

Each phase that a Shaman takes the action "Create a Spell" he rolls 1d6 and places that d6 on a spell sheet. In this way on his second action he can roll another d6 or pick up the first d6 he rolled and then roll 2d6 if he is not happy with the roll he got on the first phase. On the third phase he is up to 3d6 and this continues until he attempts to cast a spell or he is interrupted or must move. There are three different levels of power that can be rolled on the d6, and different spells use different levels in combination depending on their effects in the game. A roll of one on a d6 is a Wolf, a roll of two or three on a d6 is the owl and a roll of four, five or six on a d6 is a Turtle. You roll your dice and line them up on the Spell Sheet as you deem appropriate as the controlling player.
Currently there are six "spells" in the game. These are "Fly like an Owl" which allows you to change one warrior to an owl which may then move wherever they want on the tabletop to reappear as a human on the next turn. "Shape of the Wolf" which allows the shaman to turn himself into a wolf and fight with a CV of 5. The Shaman ignores the first hit done to him but loses his wolf form when he receives a wound. "Summon the Stone Coat" is the third spell and it allows the Shaman to summon a Stone Coat model that appears on a random board edge and has a CV of 5. This is an interesting spell because if there is more than one shaman on the board then an opposed roll is made each turn to see who controls the creature. Creatures move at the end of turn after all players have finished their moves.
The last three spells all affect the warriors in the Warband. There is "Speed of the Deer" which adds 2" of movement to any group. "Heart of the Moose" which allows all warriors in a group to ignore their first wound. Finally their is "Claws of the Bear" which increases the CV of all warriors in a group by +1 level. We will be further playtesting this system over the next few months to better refine these rules.

Failed Nerve Test!
3. The last thing we worked with is the Nerve Test rules. We basically streamlined the current rules by putting in a system where you acquire Nerve Points as you go through the melee. We found it worked nicely because it was simple and easy to remember. Each side keeps track of their points with markers or dice. You get one point for each wound you cause, one point if you knock down a figure, one point if either of these affected a Great Warrior or Companion, and one point for each taunt you inflict. In this way both sides have a score by the end of the melee. You compare scores and the winner of the fight has the higher score. A Nerve Test is then made by the player who lost the fight which means they must roll lower than the best CV of a warrior they have left standing. If you lost the fight but the score is less than 2 to 1 then the check is rolled normally. If you lost the fight and the score is 2-1 or higher but not 3 to 1 then you have a +1 modifier on your die roll. If you lose the fight and the score is 3 to 1 or higher you have a +1 modifier on your die roll. So for example, if Joe and Ben have a melee and Joe scores 7 points on Ben's group while Ben scores 3 points on Joe's group, then 7 to 3 is over 2 to 1 but not 3 to 1 which would require nine points. So Ben must make the Nerve test with a +1 modifier on the die roll. How many points you fail the Nerve Test by determines the effects of the Nerve Test.

Next weeks blog will provide and AAR of the game we played. In other news, we made a video which focuses on running a turn and melee so you can see how this works. I need to sit down and edit the video and put in my narrative so I will be working on that project over the coming weeks.
Also, we are set to start our Kickstarter this week. Our goal is to have the Kickstarter up and running by Friday, but it may be Saturday, depending on how my day goes today. We have decided to only include the figures in the Kickstarter because we have over 40 sculpts ready to go. As you can tell from these blogs the rules are still being developed and although they are moving ahead they will not be done in the foreseeable future. So we are running a Kickstarter in order to get these miniatures into the hands of our followers and we like the idea of the momentum that can be built using a Kickstarter. So stay tuned and we will publish the preview link for the Kickstarter later this week.


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