After a day or two waiting in Hopetown His Majesty's Representative sent for you and assigned you a new mission. You are to take control of the iron mines of the Snake River. "It won't be easy", the Representative warned. "The Snake's mines are guarded by strong fortifications and he will have many troops at his disposal. You must set up a settlement and raise a force strong enough to take him. His Majesty writes that it is vital that iron be obtained in time to help equip his army for the campaign in the South. The Snake's armoury of weapons is also needed for the coming battles. Unfortunately His Majesty needs the entire Corps of Engineers and so you will have to manage without any engineers". You join your supply train and set out for the Snake River, which lies in the western mountains.
A short distance from your destination your scouts come upon an old man wandering aimlessly and chattering constantly to himself. Standing orders dictate that they bring him to your scribe, Michael, for questioning. Michael can get no sense out of him and is about to have him cast out to fend for himself again, when you happen to notice. You order that the miner be brought before you. He is weak and hunched with age, bedraggled and still muttering nonsense. But his eyes meet your inquiring stare and he seems, momentarily, to become silent, and strong. "It looks like the Snake works his miners to death, Sire", Michael holds up the pick the old man had been grasping.
You fix the old miner's eyes with your steady gaze. "You worked in the Snake's mines?" The old man nods. Then he chants a riddle in the strong vibrant voice that he once used in his miners' gang while he swung his pick.
"As east be east
And west be west
Through the front door
May not always be best
There be shafts that's new
And there be shafts that' old
But where the old ones lie
Ain't easily told
What's dead is buried
In rocks from the mine
But of old doors
There still be some sign
What's in those mines
Will cost you dear
Unless those rocks you
Manage to clear
You should listen to me
Though I'm mad as a hatter
If you value iron that's Mined
Over all other Matter"
The old miner collapses in a heap. His final work song seems to have finished him off.
You and Michael exchange a sceptical glance. An old madman's meanderings can't delay the mission. You order he be placed in one of the wagons and cared for. Soon your wagons reach the site of your new base. The next day Michael informs you that the mad old miner died during the night. Now what was that nonsense he was chanting again?
The Story contains a riddle which holds the key to winning.
Establish your settlement.
Raise a force to assassinate the Snake while fending off his attacks.
You only need to kill the Snake to trigger the cede. His peasants and soldiers (including the soldiers of any of his allies) all hate him so much that they will immediately join you the instant he is dead in a wave of euphoria and hope for a future under your benevolent leadership.
Be ready to move house, lock, stock and barrel, as soon as the cede triggers. (Or maybe I should say lock, stockpile and barrel). There is a sequence of hints to help with what to do after the cede to make sure you can reach the iron target.
Once you kill the Snake that is the end of his armies. However, others may also covet the mines of the Snake River and it becomes a race to see if you can meet the economic challenge to gather enough iron in time.
It would be sensible to save when you kill the Snake. That way you can return to that point if, at first, you run into problems with the economy after the cede.
During the last 5 years you are best to take whatever steps you can to make sure your Lord does not wander too far outside your defences.
What you can trade:
His Majesty's Quartermaster will be able to supply most weapons other than maces which are in short supply and leather armour which you are expected to produce on your own. He will also take any spare timber off your hands. You are expected to grow your own food. However, if you do run short, flour and ale are available.
On Normal Setting:
Game starts Dec.1525
Game ends Dec.1544 (if you don't win first)
In other words:-
Create a settlement which is...
strong enough to resist the Snake's invasions
productive enough to raise a force capable of assassinating the Snake
soon enough so that you still have time to gather the King's iron before anything else happens...
Oh... I do not think it possible to win if you do not read the instructions first.
This is my entry to the Stronghold Fantasy Scenario Competition. I hope you get good play out of this map. Please do check out the HTML files that come in the Zip. I spent a lot of time making hints files to help point players to victory if they get stuck :).
The zip file, besides the map, contains a set of hints files to help you; a description of the map's features and how I made it.