Welcome to the eighth installment of our introductory Rivenstone gameplay series. These blogs are meant to cover some of the basic rules of the game, giving you a taste of what the tabletop experience will be when the game launches later this year.
If you’re just joining us, you can find previous blogs exploring the gameplay as well as the fiction of Rivenstone on our website.
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In today’s post, we will be discussing how to dress a battlefield with terrain, and what the different types of terrain are in Rivenstone.
Terrain in Rivenstone has keywords that determine how models interact with it and how it affects the action in the game. The most common interaction between a model and terrain is whether a model can move through that terrain or not. The default state of all terrain is that models cannot march through them and that they do not block line-of-sight (LOS).
There are fixed types of terrain that have specifically assigned keywords, but players should also feel free to use any terrain at their disposal and discuss which keywords are the most fitting for each piece. A single terrain feature can have multiple keywords, in which case you take all of them into account.
Setting Up Terrain
Customizing the battlefield with terrain is just as important as the choices each player makes when building their warbands. There are no strict rules for setting up terrain, as that would hamper creativity in the types of battlefields players could create. That said, we do have some guidelines for setting up terrain that will help create a balanced gameplay experience for both players.
When setting up terrain, players can either agree to the final placement of terrain features (whether placed by one or both players) or take turns placing a terrain feature until both players agree they are done.
The right amount of terrain improves every game—playing on a wide-open field denies players the challenge of using the terrain creatively and can quickly become monotonous. We recommend using at least six medium-sized terrain features (bigger than 2" x 2" but not larger than 5" x 5") and four smaller scatter terrain features (not larger than 2" x 2"). This ensures that both players have enough terrain to affect model movement, block LOS, and obscure models.
The keywords for terrain are defined below.
Barricade: This terrain can obscure a model when targeting it with a missile or magic attack.
We haven’t covered obscuring in a previous blog, but effectively if a model is within Close range of a terrain feature that can obscure it, and there is a straight line between the attacker and the defending model that passes through that terrain, the defending model can burn a vigor to gain two bonus dice on their defense roll.
Hindrance [Type]: Models can march through this terrain, though it can be difficult. A model whose base is not touching this terrain feature when it begins a Run action cannot overlap this terrain feature with a measurement tool unless it burns a vigor.
The type listed in brackets is referred to by other rules, such as abilities that allow models to ignore the Hindrance of certain terrain types. For example, a model might ignore the Hindrance [Forest] keyword, but not the Hindrance [Debris] keyword.
The common types of Hindrance are Debris, Forest, Muck, Sand, and Water.
Impasse: Models with Flight cannot place a range tool overlapping this terrain while marching or being pushed.
Models without Flight cannot place a range tool overlapping any terrain (unless it had a keyword that allows it), but models with Flight can. Impasse, however, is truly impassable. Nothing is getting across it without teleporting or using some other kind of trick.
Perilous [X]: Models that contact or place a range tool overlapping this terrain while performing a march move can suffer damage. To determine the damage amount, roll a number of skill dice equal to the terrain feature’s Perilous value. For each blank rolled, the model suffers 1 damage.
So for example, if a model crossed a piece of terrain with Perilous , they would roll two skill dice and suffer a damage for each blank rolled.
Shroud: This terrain can obscure a model when targeting it with a missile or magic attack. Additionally, it is impossible to see through. If a line cannot be drawn from anywhere on the attacker’s base to anywhere on the target’s base that does not cross this terrain, the attacker does not have LOS to the target and cannot attack it.
If a terrain feature with Shroud has an additional keyword that makes it possible for models to enter or climb it, such as Traversable, there is an exception to the rule for determining LOS. In this case, models within the terrain can draw LOS out of it as if it did not have Shroud, and similarly, models outside the terrain can draw LOS to a point within it as if it did not have Shroud.
Summit: This terrain feature has an elevated platform a model can stand on.
Rivenstone features rules for climbing and jumping off terrain with the Summit keyword. Some things are easier to climb, such as stairs, while climbing up the side of a wall can require a model to burn vigor and march a much shorter distance than their normal Speed.
And of course, there are rules for fall damage as well, for when you push your enemies’ models off the castle walls with a well-timed melee attack.
Traversable: This terrain does not affect models’ ability to move in any way.
These are the common terrain types in Rivenstone.
Rivenstone Deposit: A large outcrop of magical crystals. Rivenstone deposits have the Barricade keyword.
Low Wall: A solid linear object approximately as tall as the Tight range on the measurement tool. Low walls have the Barricade and Traversable keywords.
High Wall: A solid linear object taller than the Tight range on the measurement tool. High walls have the Shroud keyword.
Spike Wall: A low line of sharpened stakes designed to prevent attackers from moving into an area. A spike wall has the Barricade, Perilous , and Traversable keywords.
Boulder: A large rock too uneven to stand on. Boulders have the Barricade keyword.
Forest: Any area of tall foliage. Forests have the Hindrance [forest] and Shroud keywords.
Fog Bank: An area of mist that limits visibility. Fog banks have the Shroud and Traversable keywords.
Shallow Pool: An area of water that can be waded across. Shallow pools have the Hindrance [water] keyword.
Poison Pool: An area of shallow water that has been tainted by rivenstone to a toxic level. Poison pools have the Hindrance [water] and Perilous  keywords.
Ruins: The remnants of a structure that has crumbled over time. Ruins have the Shroud keyword. Ruins with intact roofs or higher floors have the Summit keyword. Piles of rubble within ruins can give them the Hindrance [debris] keyword.
Tall Tower: A narrow structure many times the height of a human. Tall towers have the Shroud and Impasse keywords.
Not all terrain features are as simple as a wall or pool. Particularly large or complex features often have terrain keywords that apply only to certain parts of the terrain. In situations like these, treat the overall terrain feature as several smaller terrain features placed together and assign keywords to each of the smaller parts however makes sense.
For example, consider a tall castle wall with parapets and a central gate. The gate could be given Traversable so that models can move through it freely, while the wall itself could be given Shroud to block LOS. The parapets could be given Traversable and Summit so that a model that reaches the top (perhaps from another terrain feature or a ladder along the wall) can move freely along the top of the wall.
Real World Examples
Let’s take a look at some of the awesome terrain Michael Archer has built for our tables here at Broken Anvil Headquarters and discuss which keywords would apply to each.
This stone arch would be considered a low wall, thus it would have both the Barricade and Traversable keywords. Models could freely move through this arch and also take cover behind it.
Here we have a complex piece of terrain that we’re going to need to break down into multiple sections with different keywords. The large stone pillar itself is large enough to block line of sight, so we’re going to say it has the Shroud keyword.
The rocky area below looks difficult to traverse but is something models should be able to move across, so it makes sense for it have the Hindrance [debris] keyword.
The platform up top can be reached by models that climb the ropes up to it, and is easy enough to move around on freely, so we would give it the Summit and Traversable keywords. We would also think that the climb up to the top is not easy; it involves going straight up a small rope, so this type of climbing would require models to burn vigor and lose some of their distance when marching up to the top.
Finally, since the pillar directly beneath the platform has the Shroud keyword we would agree that models atop the platform are considered to be “in the Shroud” and thus could draw LOS to other models and vice versa through the pillar.