The Recorded History of the Caves of Mahtis:
Pursuing the Durani forces as they fled the city of Two Rock, the Gudanna vanguard encountered an enemy force stationed around the Caves of Mahtis. The Empire was searching for the ancient and powerful Rune of Zukti, a mystical Zri artifact hidden deep in the caves. Taking the Rune could completely turn the tides of war for whomever gained its devastating power. As the fighting around the Caves escalated, ambitious Mercenary Kings who had fought for both Empire and Dominion in the siege of Two Rock joined the conflict over the Rune, this time fighting on their own behalf.
After entering the Caves, the knights of Eretsu soon found that the Caves contained more than the treasure they sought. Warriors of every Arcanum found themselves face to face with the ghosts of of their ancestors and countrymen. The Durani forces met with more ghosts than the rest, one of them accusing the Durani of being usurpers from House Hamazi, stealing the Empire from its rightful rulers.
The rest of the spectres were far from benevolent. Many of those who encountered the ghosts felt their wrath, having their mana drained from them. Many affected knights were left powerless in the depths of the underground labyrinth.
Spurred on by their recent victory at Two Rock, the Gudanna beared down on the Durani with unbridled fury snatching the Rune from the Empire. Those who bore the Rune however found themselves lost, heading deeper into the Caves affected by the raw magical energies that ran rampant throughout the cave.
Harnessing the vast amount of mana present in the Caves, Durani mages unleashed powerful miracles and curses upon the disorientated Gudanna. Using the magical barrage to its full advantage, Durani knights cornered any Gudanna warrior carrying the Rune, slaying him for his prize. During the battle, the Durani unleashed more magic than any other force in the Caves.
As Durani and Gudanna Golems tore each other apart, the fighting became so fierce that the two great nations armies were forced into a stalemate. During the course of the fighting the Rune changed hands 150 times as the carriers of the powerful artefact were rapidly brought down by their enemies.
The Mercenary Kings, while never controlling the battlefield, continued to make their presence known, especially against the Empire whom they launched several attacks on. As the Durani and Gudanna beat each other into submission an Urugal Mercenary King, Raza Osa bin Beleem, saw his chance. Organizing his own force and those of several lesser Mercenary troops, the Urugal commander ambushed a Gudanna force who had barely survived capturing the Rune from the Empire.
Raza Osa Bin Beleem’s gambit paid off. The Urugal chieftain was able to escape with the Rune of Zukti, secreting it away to the south. Some have reported that Osa Bin Beleem was not the lone architect of his plan. Many claimed to see a young Urugal princess help design his plot, but others assert there was no girl, and one of the Caves’ phantoms was responsible.
The Rune out of both their grasp, the Gudanna and Durani pulled back from the blood soaked canyon around the Caves, saving what was left of their respective armies for the long war ahead.
The Caves of Mahtis had an interesting result from a data perspective. Throughout the two week collection period, the Durani and the Gudanna kept things close. So close that they were within a few percentage points of each other for most of the weekend, often within one game of each other. As the collection period came to end the two great nations were tied.
This left us with interesting choices to make. We expected that the side that won the scenario was going to claim the Rune of Zukti for their own, and have it help them in a scenario in the future. However, with a tie, this was no longer an option and we were needed to get creative when looking at the games data for which way to take the story.
Winning less than 15% of the total games, the Mercenaries were far from winning the battle on their own merit, but they did acted as spoiler for the other two sides. Looking at the data, the Mercenaries ended up hurting the Empire more than the Dominion, one of the major reasons why the Empire didn’t win the scenario.
Since the scenario ended in a Tie, we felt that there were two options open to us. Either the Rune could be destroyed in the fighting, or the Mercenaries could make off with the Rune. We decided that having the scenario end in a null result wasn’t fun and didn’t work to progress the plot. On the other hand, deciding to have the Mercenaries claim the Rune allows us to bring it back in our next Living World campaign and give the fledgling Mercenary powers a place at the table so to speak.
As at Two Rock, the Gudanna forces at Mahtis were divided in their loyalties between Rudatha and Nandanna. At Two Rock more of the force was loyal to Rudatha, at Mahtis however Nandanna seems to have picked up popularity. 55% of the Gudanna forces were loyal to Nandanna at Mahtis.
Over the course of the battle, the Rune changed hands a significant amount of times. In all the holder of the Relic was killed on average 3 times a game.
The Durani encountered the most ghosts, with Gudanna close behind. While the Gudanna and Durani had more bad ghost encounters overall the Mercenary kings had the highest percentage of bad encounters, almost half of them ending with a negative effect. Overall there were 280 Ghost encounters.