Solo Scenario: A Gulper Safari

A Gulper Safari

A Xilos Gulper surprises a C3 Strike Squad in the jungle

A solo scenario for 500-1000 points.

Though gulpers were thought to originate on Xilos, it wasn’t long before sightings were reported on other worlds. In general, those worlds were primitive, perhaps only recently absorbed into an IMTel, perhaps still independent. Though varying in primary ecosystems, all the worlds had one thing in common: a thriving market black market in wilderness safaris.

And what more dangerous a creature to hunt than a gulper?

The Freeborn were no doubt behind the transplantation. Eggs or youngsters were picked up by Freeborn looking for an edge and taken to other worlds before the Nexus collapsed. There, they thrived, simply because there was little that could prey on them. Unfortunately, those worlds soon paid the price for the lack of knowledge about the gulpers: it soon became apparent that the creature’s relationship to or with snappers and drummers was more complex than identified as both these other two Xilos species began to appear alongside the giant, underground beast.

In places, gulpers are now classed as serious pests. Culls have been ordered and, once again, the Freeborn sieze the opportunity. Why not allow rich independents, jaded officials or even curious IMTel citizens the chance to take part in a gulper hunt? Not only do the Freeborn get paid for culling a gulper, but they also get paid by a rich patrons who wish to experience an adrenaline rush: the thrill of a death-defying hunt.

One that could eat you alive…

What you’ll need

Hunting a gulper is no trivial matter. You’ll need a transport, at least, for protection and emergency evacuation plus four units. A weapon team such as a mag or palsma light support is useful and you’ll also need a pair of escorting squads – Freeborn garrison troops are great but a pair of basic squads from your faction are fine. Finally, a command model is needed to represent the hunter themselves, plus a few friends or bodyguards from a command squad.

Overhead weapons are not advised as they are too likely to attract further dangerous fauna!

The principal hunter could even be a renegade or jaded NuHu wishing to build a reputation for themselves and, of course, you could just run this scenario as a standard culling exercise from one of the main factions, the participants no wishing to completely destroy vast areas of wilderness in the hunt for a gigantic infestation!

Markers are needed to track the last known location of the gulper or other dangerous fauna.  In addition to the units’ order dice, different coloured order dice are needed for the markers and for surfacing creatures – the exact number depends on how complex a scenario you play. If you don’t have enough different colored order dice, roll for the creature to which they belong as you pull them from the bag.

Oh yes, you’ll need gulpers, snappers, drummers – or whatever other creature you fancy hunting.

Set Up

Set up a 4’x3’ or 4’x4’ table with jungle, open forest or desert terrain. About 6-8 pieces are required and should ideally be a mix of pieces like scrub, low bushes, woods, forest or jungle, though a small pond or area of quicksand would also be appropriate. Make sure the terrain is well spaced.

Decide who is travelling in the transport. Transports have limited carrying capacity, so may only be able to carry the command group hunters, the weapon team and a single squad – the other squad will be outside, walking and protecting the transport, at least.

If your squads are too big but you want to carry one in the transport, cut them down and leave the other members at camp, guarding the rations and preparing a splendid, celebratory banquet! Providing you start with infantry squads of four models or more, it will be fine (okay, three for Ghar battlesuits).

Deployment

Having set up the terrain, now randomly deploy 3 or more markers, the number depending on how difficult you want the hunt to be. To determine their placement, choose one table short edge and divide it into 6” portions. Roll to select one of these portions, then a D10 to determine how many inches in from the middle of this portion the marker should be placed.

Each marker shows a possible location of a gulper or one of the other creatures, the location identified from sensors and scans.

Then place the transport and the squads not in it at the opposite end of the table, within 5” of the table edge. Units cannot be deployed beyond this line.

Finally, place your order dice into the bag, plus one for the markers.  You are now ready to go!

Gulper Safari setup

Objective

To capture or kill a gulper, of course. Oh, and not get eaten yourself. The first is a victory; the latter a bonus. If the command group kills the gulper and survives, consider it a major victory with much respect earned for the commander!

Game Duration

The game is played until six turns have elapsed. Then roll randomly to see if another turn is to be played (Antares rulebook, p.141), at which point all the gulpers around will swamp the area. Break points can be ignored for this game – it’s up to you — but it is possible that a hunting group would flee when half their number is killed!

The game ends at the end of the turn when a gulper (or two, if you want it more difficult!) is either captured or killed.

Special Scenario Rules

Hush!

Units can elect to move silently so as not to attract the attention of the creatures. To do so, they can move no further than 1M (whether on Run or Advance) and cannot sprint. At the end of their movement, they make an Ag check. If they pass, then they have successfully ‘Hushed’ and do not attract the attention of the markers or gulper (see ‘Attracting Attention’, below).

Weapon fire or impact will always attract the attention of the markers and gulper. A team moving normally will also attract attention.

Marker Movement

All markers move when the marker trigger dice is pulled from the bag. Each marker moves in a random direction (roll a D10 as if for OH diversion). Markers move d5″ if the direction rolled is away from the closest hunter unit, otherwise d10″ – we just used the value shown on the direction dice.

If a marker leaves the table, immediately replace it with a new marker, placing it as for deployment but this time D10+10” onto the table.

Markers may also move when their attention is attracted (see ‘Attracting Attention’, below).

Attracting Attention

Markers represent sensor signatures that may be hidden creatures on the hunt. They respond when their attention is attracted by weapon fire, OH impacts including net, and noisy (not Hush’d) movement within 15″.

At the completion of any action or reaction that attracts attention, roll D10 for each marker within 15” of the source of the noise. Markers should be checked even if they have moved or been attracted to noise before in this turn. On a roll of 1-5, the marker stays put; on a roll of 6-10, the marker moves d10” in a random direction towards the sound source: use the normal redirection roll but turn it 180° if it points away from the source (it may go sideways, for example).

Markers move in a straight line, ignoring all but impenetrable terrain, but stop when within 5” of any unit, at which point they surface…

Surfacing/The Reveal

A marker within 5″ of a unit at any point during the game immediately reveals itself, interrupting the action or reaction. To determine which creature has been lurking in the long grass, roll a D10, subtract the current turn, and check on the table below to see what creature is to replace the marker:

D10 –
current turn
Replace marker with…
2 or less Gulper and its two order dice (see stats below)
3-4 Drummer and its single order die (see stats below)
5-7 A group of 3×Snappers and their single order die (see stats below)
8 or more False signal. Remove the marker and redeploy

Any creature that has just surfaced immediately Runs towards the closest unit, assaulting it if within reach. The creatures takes the most efficient route they can to minimise pins from intervening terrain (see the Creature stats, below, for the gulper’s movement underground). If the creature can sprint into an assault, it will do so but will otherwise preserve its energy and just Run.

At the end of the turn, the creatures order dice are placed in the bag.

Important note: There is an option to limit the number of gulpers (perhaps to one!) or to limit the number of drummers and snapper packs. One gulper, two drummers and three snapper packs provide a potentially challenging game without making things too difficult. Playtesting showed that rolling three gulpers in a row results in a very unhappy hunt leader.

Moving Surfaced Creatures

Once they have revealed themselves, the creatures are activated when their trigger dice is pulled. After pulling the dice, check for pins and make an order test as normal – the creature may be forced Down.

Creatures otherwise make only one of two orders: Rally and Run.  They attempt a Rally if they have 5 or more pins and are more than 10″ from any enemy unit, the Rally representing them licking their wounds at a safe distance.

Otherwise creatures should be given a Run order and will move towards the nearest hunter unit, minimising pins where they can by running around terrain it would find overly difficult (refer to the gulper below for special movement rules). If the creature can Sprint into an assault, it will do so (the Drummer sprints 20”, for example, having the ‘Rapid Sprint’ special rule).

A creature will always opt for Follow On combat if it can.

When a creature dies, a new marker is deployed as if having moved off the table (see Marker Movement, above).


Designer’s Notes

The transport is an integral part of this scenario. It acts as a safe haven for damaged or wounded units as well as being to act as a barricade against the onslaught of the gulper. Without it, the hunters will find it difficult to complete the scenario within the normal time period.

For Ghar, of course, the transport could be replaced with a few squads of battle- or assault-troopers and bunch or two of Outcasts as, err, bait.

A good tactic is to try and isolate and draw out the gulper with the transport and other units on ambush before too many creatures appear. The Xilos creatures can be deadly and the gulper, in particular, is difficult to cope with as it cannot be engaged in Point Blank Shooting. The use of Reactions to run away (Escape!) from a creature’s charge was aparticularly important.  An option we tried was to extend the marker ‘surfacing’ range to 10″ as this made it easier for squads to escape should they wish to do so – the 5″ range is quite a challenge.

If more variety is wanted (or possible), players can make up their own encounter table with whatever comes to mind, and even the suitable encounter stats. Indeed, we recommend sharing a useful monster so we can add it to the creature table, below!

Scaling Down

Of course, the scenario also works well with smaller forces or without vehicles simply by removing the gulper.  To make the challenge work, though, a different creature (a nuraptor?) should be added, one that is capable of being handled by smaller squads. This is where we have to say that the best way to find out a balance for you, with your forces is to experiment: but that’s half the fun!

An Oszoni captain commands her bodyguard and vardanari

Creature stats

The stats mentioned here are recommended for this scenario only and differ slightly from those in the Xilos book. We’ll add in new creatures as they come on.

Creature (Type) Ag Acc Str Res Init Co Special
Gulper or similar (Humungous Beast) 5 10 15 7 7 3 Attacks SV 4, Large, Gulper, MOD2
Snappers (in Snapper pack, Beast) 9 7 5 7 7 1 Attack SV 2 (per snapper), Savage Strike
Drummer (Beast) 9 5 7 7 7 7 2 Attacks SV3, Large, Rapid Sprint, Drum Stun
NuRaptor (Beast) 7 8 11 6 7 1 Attack SV4, Large, MOD2, Rapid Sprint, Savage Strike

Gulper: When it moves, the Gulper pops underground, ploughing its way just beneath the surface. It cannot move through or into buildings, or through or into terrain that is impassable, but it can move under such things and pop out the other side if it has sufficient movement distance to do so. Because the Gulper moves through or under the soil surface it does not need to take Agility tests on account of terrain. When the Gulper assaults a target it attacks from underneath and so cannot be engaged by point-blank shooting.

Drum Stun: When the Drummer makes an assault it can make one shot of point-blank shooting to represent its bizarre drumming. There is no damage but a hit causes the target to suffer +1 pin (normally 2 pins in total) if it is a biological entity.