Battle For Skull Pass
Battle For Skull Pass is the scenario for the 7th edition Warhammer Fantasy Starter Set, featuring Night Goblins vs Dwarfs. Unlike most Starter Sets in Fantasy, BFSP actually had an accompanying Black Library novel for the story.
The Battle For Skull Pass storyline was not included with the Battle For Skull Pass boxed set, instead sold as a short 123 page novel from Black Library written by the great Nathan Long who also worked on the beloved Gotrek & Felix series.
The Dwarfs of Skull Pass AKA Karak Grom are of the Clan Byrnik. The colors of Karak Grom seem to be blue and gold, the stereotypical Dwarf colors, despite Clan Byrnik being green and silver. Skull Pass is located in the Worlds Edge Mountains
After the fall of Karak Eight Peaks the resident Dwarfs were lead by King Lunn in a mass retreat from the Skaven and Night Goblins forces. While most left for other Holds to beg for refuge and join, Thane Godri Thunderbrand decided to found a new Hold. King Lunn "gifted" him with the King's Wall, a massive chain held up by statues of ancient Dwarf heroes which surrounded the throne of the Eight Peaks; no being may pass without the permission of the king, and all Dwarfs would die before such a thing would occur. So long as Godri established a basic Hold according to Dwarf tradition and defended the King's Wall, then Lunn would declare him a King on his own right and bow before him. To that end Godri, his brother Rodrin, and his son Aurik worked for a century to make it a reality. The Hold suffered many attacks, and the enduring nature both earned the superstition that it was cursed (regularly repeated by Rodrik) and that it was a haven, with many other Dwarf refugees flooding in over the years. Initial tunnels were for gold and iron for trade, followed by finished living quarters for the population. Stone buildings were built, which survived better during the nearly constant attacks from greenskins. The nearby spring provided them with clean water, and soon they had a thriving brewery and a herd of cattle. Foundries were established, and the community became self-sufficient. The story begins during the last year before the Hold is completed and Godri is excited for Lunn to declare him king. All that remains is bolting the doors in place, the arrival of one of Karak Azul's finest locks, and the great hall being finished; an unexpected discovery of a large crack during blasting delayed the finished hall since more pillars had to be constructed before the required size (ten Dwarfs walking side by side) was possible. A Slayer, specifically a Dragonslayer, named Borri Graniteskin. Borri had come to deal with a Troll which had been menacing the cowherds, but thus far had simply spent his time drinking in the brewery for free until given three days to deal with the Troll or leave (he did nothing for two days).
On the Goblin side, a warrior named Dagskar Earscrapper killed his Boss Budgoz by poisoning his mushroom beer. Not content just to be a Boss, Dagskar traveled to the Eight Peaks to meet with Skarsnik and demanded to be Big Boss. Knowing that Dagskar was a nobody, Skarsnik barely paid him any attention as he watched captive human hunters fed to Gobbla. Dagskar was assigned the task of taking Skull Pass to earn it, and he immediately recruited a small tribe of Forest Goblins lead by their Shaman Nazbad Wartfinger (who's namesake was the source of his power). With a small herd of Squigs, he set out and made camp not far from the Hold while assigning the Spider Riders to perform patrols. He immediately recruited the Troll (which is half feeding, and half goading in the direction he wanted it). He finally had his tent pitched (the ONLY tent, the rest of the Goblins slept on the ground) and made camp.
First the Spider Riders were sent to kill the Rangers in Copperwood Forest, followed by lighting it on fire while Night Goblins attacked the cowherds using the Troll. A Dwarf named Skaari Otgunsson survived the latter battle (because he was pinned under a cow) and ran to inform the King what had happened. Godri sent a team of Rangers, with Skaari at his request, to survey the Goblin numbers while the rest of the Hold prepared for war by reinforcing the Skarrenruf Bridge (the only way to the Hold) and preparing trenches at the settlement itself. Although initially undetected, Skaari decided to shoot the Squig pen which caused them to run amok through the camp in a massive rampage. Having to choose between losing Squig or the Forest Goblins who's spiders the Squigs had moved onto after killing their handlers and many other Night Goblins, he chose the former and the Squigs were butchered. Skaari's arrow was found and Dagskar decided to attack immediately.
Due to the attack being his fault, Skaari was assigned to the surgeon's tent where he boiled water to sterilize tools and clean wounds rather than fight at the front lines as he had requested. The attack caused chaos, as the Spider Riders were sent to climb upside-down across the bridge and flank the Dwarfs while the Troll shrugged off both Cannon and Thunderer fire until it was blown off the bridge. As a last ditch effort Dagskar sent the captured cattle in a stampede across the bridge while the Goblins followed behind. Once Aurik knew the battle was lost, he had his subordinate sound the horn for the reinforcements hurrying to his position to fall back and retreat as they readied for a last stand. Aurik was killed while Skaari was knocked unconscious. Dagskar had the dead Dwarfs gathered onto the cart captured from Copperwood and during an escape attempt Skaari was captured and tied to the cart and forced to run behind as it progressed.
When the Goblins made their attack the Spider Riders were again sent to attack the Dwarf line from behind, although tensions between Night and Forest Goblin were running high. Nazbad worked his magic to create green clouds that fired non-lethal lightning to break the Dwarf lines. Skaari took advantage of the lack of attention paid to him to use his foot and fling a piece of cow shit at Night Goblins, then laughed loudly and mimicked the act of throwing while pointing at the Forest Goblins. this caused both sides to attack each other, and after being unable to separate them and being loudly accused by Nazbad of treachery Dagskar decided that enough was enough and called for the Night Goblins to eliminate the Forest Goblins (as he'd been planning to anyway to avoid fulfilling his promise of giving Nazbad everything in the Hold and the Hold itself). Nazbad had the Spider Riders end their attack on the Dwarfs and fled the battle, although not before Dagskar cut off his namesake and three inches of nose. The Dwarfs had held strong, killing five times as many Goblins; initially a losing fight since the Goblins outnumbered them six to one, although the retreat of the Forest Goblins and waning morale of the Night Goblins made it a Dwarf victory.
As a last ditch effort to win the battle Dagskar had Aurik tied to the front seat as if still alive alongside a tightly bound Skaari, while the Troll hid in the cart beneath the dead Dwarfs. Not knowing that the riders were all dead the Dwarf lines broke to let them in, only for the Troll to emerge and attack while the Goblins swarmed over them. Borri attempted to kill the Troll, although he dropped his fire pot and was forced to dodge club swings. Skaari finally got free and, determined to make up for what he believed was his fault in the loss of the bridge and Aurik, made a suicide run at the Troll with the pot while using Aurik's fabled axe Grudge Ender (used by his grandfather to save most of the Dwarf refugees from the Eight Peaks) to chop at the it. The Troll crushed Skaari's ribs before throwing him, cracking his skull open. He lived long enough to see Borri and the Troll behead each other and that the Troll really was dead before succumbing to his wounds.
Godri was forced to make the terrible decision to retreat behind the King's Wall, which had been hauled out as a morale booster during the battle, to make a last stand in the unfinished great hall. The last effort to achieve victory was blowing the last charges used in the construction of the hall (which hadn't been used since discovering the crack in the ceiling) to bring the roof down on the invaders. Most of the Goblins were crushed other than Dagskar who made a quick retreat, with the obsessive chief architect of the Hold Naragrim Torinsson simply standing in the center of the hall as the rocks crushed him rather than see his great work be pushed back by decades.
The Dwarfs managed to escape by opening a metal vent used to bring fresh air into the Hold, and found that most of their settlement was destroyed while inside the Hold the guild halls as well as the grain storage were buried. Starvation was an immediate concern in the coming winter, while half the Hold soldiers were dead and many of the rest badly wounded. Meanwhile, Dagskar escaped to attempt to claim victory at the Eight Peaks but was instead fed to Gobbla while Skarsnik called for a volunteer for another attack.
Its left unstated what the eventual fate of Karak Grom is. While this is the era where Thorgrim Grudgebearer himself was leading armies like the ultimate murderhobo and save the Dwarf race one Hold at a time, Skarsnik is clearly left ready to send another force to destroy Karak Grom; whether or not he even is able to find a willing, let alone capable, one is left unsaid.
Ultimately all characters included in Battle For Skull Pass wind up dead other than what is possibly Nazbad, since its not clear if the Spider Rider with the staff is a standard bearer or him. The Dwarf cart as depicted in the models is clearly not the same cart in the narrative, since it is a closed metal box rather than something to pile up dead Dwarfs on top of a Troll with two riders up front. The identity of the tied up Dwarf is unclear as well, since the official paintjob depicts him with red hair (to say nothing of the very Slayer hairstyle) while Skaari was never fully bound and had brown hair. Dagskar was always accompanied by his punching bag/standard bearer which matches the Battle Standard Bearer Goblin, but the narrative says the BSB was a Crooked Moon symbol while the BSB in the models is a Night Goblin scarecrow (a Night Goblin in the set does have the Crooked Moon staff, but he's depicted among the rank and file rather than as a character alongside the other NG character). Furthermore the Night Goblin leader model is shown holding a spear ending in a sharpened crescent and holding a Squig in the other hand while Dagskar never was mentioned as having a Squig and used a whip ending in a blade as his weapon. The Night Goblin fetish model could be crudely called Dagskar's tent, although it is made of rock like a hollowed-out stalagmite rather than any form of cloth or leather. As fans discovered in End Times there is a huge disconnect between the different Games Workshop teams, where the event books contradicted the Black Library releases accompanying them in many areas. As was revealed by Gav Thorpe to explain the event, staff are given basic outlines by the higher ups about what things should be about and everyone else simply fills in the rest as they see fit; thus Mr. Long was most likely given information like "There will be a cart included in the kit, work it into the story." and "There's a tied-up Dwarf, work that in too somehow." and the fact that the details are incompatible is the fault of the higher ups in the company not having clear messaging between departments rather than writers or sculptors.
Like all Starter Sets, Battle For Skull Pass contained unique sculpts for the models within and was a great deal for the price. Players wanting to start one of the armies within would buy the starter, sell the army they didn't want, then buy another and sell that unwanted army as well until they had all the models they needed. It was available alongside a Collector's Edition version of the rulebook which was a special hardcover that had prints of classic Warhammer artwork, as well as a side "How To Paint" (yellow, black, brown, green, red, and tin metallic) set containing basic Night Goblin colors along with ten Night Goblin Spearmen was also available.
BFSP is notable for being the last Warhammer Fantasy Starter Set to include terrain and objective pieces. It also contained a set of 12 colors of paint (tin metallic, gray, blue, brown, light green, red, black dark green, yellow) and a paintbrush.
- Dwarf Thane
- Dwarf Dragon Slayer
- 12 Dwarf Warriors
- 10 Dwarf Thunderers
- 8 Dwarf Miners
- 1 Dwarf Cannon with crew
- Night Goblin Boss
- Night Goblin Shaman
- 40 Night Goblin Spearmen
- 20 Night Goblin Archers
- 10 Forest Goblin Spider Riders
- 1 Troll
- King's Wall Obstacle
- Dwarf Grudge Pony
- Captured Dwarf
- Idol of Mork
- Island of Blood, the 8e Starter Set scenario.