Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Little Wars TV Visits BARRAGE

Little Wars TV was special guest at BARRAGE this year, where they ran a pair of great games, and did a lot of filming.  They have done up a recap video now, which I'd thought I'd share with everyone to give them an idea of what BARRAGE is like.

Monday, October 1, 2018

HAWKs Host Successful BARRAGE '18 Convention

   This past Friday and Saturday the HAWKs hosted their annual gaming convention, BARRAGE, in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  The event, running midday Friday to late Saturday night, was once again a big success for the club; with a record number of attendees, lots of beautiful and enjoyable games, and some great dealers.  Also, for the first time this year, the club was happy to welcome Little Wars TV to the convention. They ran two great games, did some interviews, and shot a bunch of footage while they were there.
     Here are some photos from throughout the two day event.
An overview of the hall on Saturday morning.

A War of the Roses skirmish game that I ran Friday afternoon.

A Battlegroup WWII game.

A modern Afghanistan game.

Duncan Adam's Napoleonic skirmish using Combat Patrol

Both days of the con there was a well-attended Flames of War tournament.

Zeb Cook's "Great Martian War" game, using GASLIGHT

Bill Molyneaux's beautiful Fort Pitt game, featuring hundreds of lovely old school French and Indian War figures. 

Naval action.

On Saturday, there was a very popular L'art De La Guerre tournament.

Buck Surdu is interviewed by the guys at Little Wars TV

Zeb Cook's Salerno WWII game.

A perennial favorite is Rich Heffner's Aerodrome game.

Sam Fuson''s innovative Adventurers of Sherlock Holmes scenario.

Brendan and Ed Watts' Eat Hitler game.

After the con, the HAWKs held their annual Pirate Tavern LARP.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Medieval Killer Rabbit Kickstarter

  I always like to give a plug to any Kickstarter I back, so I thought I'd let you all know about this Killer Rabbit Kickstarter, being done by Skull & Crown.
      The figures are based on  the margin decorations of medieval manuscripts, that sometimes depicted rabbits doing all sorts of violent things to unsuspecting humans.   I thought that these guys would make a great Easter-themed force for my Christmas War armies, but they also have use in any Fantasy setting.
    To check it out for yourself, see the main Kickstarter page here:  Killer Rabbits

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 9: The Abandoned Mine

    Last Saturday we got together for the ninth game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign.  We had 6 of our regular 8 players in attendance.  We set up a home-grown scenario called "The Abandoned Mine".  The scenario featured an old mine in which a colony of Vampires (Imported from the Frostgrave Bestiary) had set up housekeeping.  We made up a simple Random Encounter Table that was heavy on undead types.  Situated between every pair of players was a central room  in which was located a coffin.  When the first figure enters the room, the Vampire arises from the coffin, and will move to fight whoever is closest.  (They could pursue figures out of the room once woken, as long as they moved towards the closest figure.  Players would get 50 Experience Points if their crew killed the Vampire, and they could get 10 Experience Points if they destroyed the Coffin by beating a Fight roll of 14. When the Coffin was destroyed the central treasure was placed in it's spot.  The players' other treasures were placed normally around the mine.    We used a 7'x3' table, set up with the mine constructed from tiles from the recent Secret Weapon "Terrainscape Dungeons: Mines" Kickstarter.  We used five of the Core Sets and a bunch of the Add-Ons from my and one of the other player's collections.
     Instead of entry zones like we usually do, the table was set up with 6 mine entrances evenly spaced in pairs down each side of the table.  Players started with their figures just outside these entryways, and would need  to move their figures in through the entry tunnel beginning on the first turn.   I got the 5th choice of placement and was left with the choice of a spot across from Skorri, or one with hardly any treasures in easy reach.  Being an optimist, I picked the one across from my old nemesis Skorri Drakenburg; which put me in the lefthand corner of one side.   To my immediate right was the Heritor Robin Duck, his Warden Friar Duck, and his strange band of Duckmen.  Diagonally across to my front right was the Heritor Griffin, and his Warden, Ashalla.  At the far end of the table was  the Heritor Gregorious on my side, and across from him was the Heritor, Kragmar of the True Blood.
Overview of the table, showing entry points. For purposes of the narrative, West is towards the top, North is to the right, East is to the bottom, and South is on the left.
The Report 

     The Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, and his crew had stopped on the island to refill their fresh water and barter for some food with the local villagers; who were known to be friendly towards outsiders.  As always, the Elf Lord took the time to wander the bazaar to see if he could spy any trinket that might offer a clue to the location of the Crystal Pool.  While he stood at the stall of a Scroll Seller, his Niece and Warden, Marnilyne, came rushing up to him, breathless.  "Uncle! We need to leave!" she shouted to him, and then deeply breathed for air. "Now!"
    Lord Fortrywn turned to the girl, unflustered, and a little puzzled.   Taking her by the shoulders, he said sternly, "Calm yourself, girl.  What is this about leaving? What is going on?
'Vampires, uncle!" Marny exclaimed.  "In the old mine!", and her hand shot out with the finger extended, and pointed towards the distance rocky ridge. "I heard it from the Potion Seller."
     Vampires were a personal bane to Lord Fortrywn. He had encountered one on campaign two decades before,  and it had preyed on his officers and men, until panic had nearly overcome his entire army.  It had taken all the Heritor's skill and perseverance to root the monster out and kill it for good.  The thought of another such beast so close, made his blood burn just thinking about it.  "We need to find the Village Elder", he said through gritted teeth. "Come with me."
    An hour later Lord Fortrywn and his shore party were scaling the ridge to the westernmost mine entrance on this side of the ridge.  Sure enough, the Elder had confirmed that the village had been plagued by Vampire attacks the past few months.  The Elf Heritor gave his promise that he would eradicate the problem.  In turn, the Village Elder was grateful, but not overly optimistic.  This was not the first party of brave souls to promise to clear the mines of it's monstrous residents.
Lord Fortrywn and crew move down the main entry tunnel.
     Outside the mine entrance, Lord Fortrywn set the order that they would proceed into the tunnels.  Bindidell the Hunter and Tannin the Archer would take the point position, with him following up in the second rank.  Behind him would come Arbyn the Crew-woman and his Niece Marnilyne.  After them would be Salin the Pearl Diver, and Crew-woman Lilisea; and bringing up the rear would be the Crew-women Bry and Meriwyn.
     They proceed down the dark damp twisted corridor, following the path of rusted rails once used to move mine carts of ore.  Almost immediately, the party noticed there was a dense mist rising in the tunnels, cutting down on their limited sight. (Gregorious' Warden cast Cloud Cover.) They soon came to a Y in the corridor. To the right, the rails continued straight east, disappearing in the darkness.   To the left, the path passed through a narrow gap in the rock, where it again split into two paths; the righthand one leading north to a solid looking door, and left leading west into the gloom.
          Marny took a few steps down the rails and peered into the mists.  She thought she saw a spot where the rails forked, one going to the north, and the other line continuing east.  Quickly she chanted her Bramble spell, and thick ropey coils of lichen began to climb up from the rocky floor, blocking the tunnel on the far side of the split.
The Vampire is awoken by Skorri's Fox entering the far doorway.
     Lord Fortrywn moved forward and put his hand on the wooded door, followed by his right ear.  He heard stone sliding on stone and what sounded like a high pitched yapping, as if from a small dog.  (Skorri had sent his Warhound, [being played by a fox figure], into the Vampire's room to trigger it.)  The Elf Heritor motioned for his crew to be silent, and indicated that the room was occupied, most likely by the Vampire.    He sent Arbyn down to scout and guard the corridor to the west, and sent Marny, Salin, and Songlyne down to investigate the rails to the east.
     It was then in the torch glow, that Bindidell the Hunter's keen eyes noticed footholds carved into the wall a short way to the left of the door.  Looking up she saw there was an old wooden gangway.  The Hunter signaled to Lord Fortrywn to get his attention, and pointed out her discovery.  The Elf Lord analyzed the location of the gangway, and wondered if it might be another way to enter the Vampire's lair.    Quickly, he formulated a plan, and instructed Bindidell and Tannin to scale the wall to the gangway, and seek a path into the room. and Bry and Lilisea would force the door to the Vampire's lair.  The old Heritor puzzled for a moment that he no longer heard any sound from the room.
     In a flash Bindidell was up the wall, and she could see the gangway pass through a low arch near the ceiling, a few feet away; in a bound she was to the arch, as Tannin came up behind her. She peered down into a large room.  In the far corner a brazier burned, lighting the scene.  In the center there lie a stone coffin it's lid ajar; but there was no sign of a Vampire.  (It had exited out the far door in pursuit of Skorri's crew.)   The Hunter turned to Tannin, and whispered, "Tell the Lord. We're in."
The party splits up in the main intersection.  You can see the hand and foot holds carved in the rock leading up to the gangway, right behind Tannin (yellow cape) and Bindidell on the left.
     With word the Vampire was missing, Lord Fortrywn climbed to the gangway to see the situation for himself.  Before the Heritor went up, he instructed the Crew-women Bry and Lilisea to try the door, and if it was unlocked, to enter the room that way. 
     The Elf Lord could see the gangway extended all the way along the western side of the room, and exited out a similar low arch near the ceiling on the far side of the room.   He instructed Tannin to move forward and provide covering fire.   Meanwhile, Bindidell noticed a set of stone steps on her right leading down from the gangway, and started to climb down them, her bow at the ready.   On the floor below, the two Crew-women moved up on her right, having found the door unlocked and cautiously entering the room. 
    There was a sudden hiss in the air, and Bindidell felt a sudden pain in her arm as an arrow sliced by tearing her shirt, and putting a long cut below the shoulder.  (-1 HP)  Instinctively, she, and Lord Fortrywn on the walkway above, looked for the source of the shot, and just caught sight of the  Human Heritor, Skorri Drakenburg, ducking back out of view from the partially open door on the far side of the room.  For the love of all the Gods, Lord Fortrywn thought; what is he doing here?!  The Elf Heritor did not dwell on the thought long, for through the open door he spied something else more important; the Vampire could be seen slumped up agains the wall just outside the door, dead.  Well, at least Skorri had saved him the effort, Lord Fortrywn thought. 
     Once again, the Elf Heritor, was distracted from his thoughts by the slice of an arrow, this time from his own Archer, Tannin; and as the old Elf looked up, he saw two of Skorri's Crewmen moving along the gangway.  One, in a red shirt, was moving toward them, but ducked behind an arch of rock the jutted out into the room about halfway along the gangway; while the other Crewman, in a blue shirt, was hauling a chest back down the gangway.  The arrow whistled by both harmlessly.
Lord Fortrywn and crew enter the Vampire's room.
  Meriwyn now joined the two Crew-women in the room, and Bindidell made her way the rest of the way down to the floor to join them.  She spotted a door under the gangway on the west wall of the room and pointed it out to Lord Fortrywn.  Knowing Skorri and his crew were about, Lord Fortrywn knew they had to act fast.  Quickly he handed out orders; telling Meriwyn to check out the newly discovered door, and Lilisea and Bindidell to destroy the coffin and finish the job Drakenburg had started, while Bry should stand guard and keep a watchful eye for trouble. 
     Meanwhile, further to the east, Marnilyne the Warden, Salin the Pearl Diver, and Songlyne the Archer had made their way down the rail line to where it split.  Marny's Brambles still stood as a formidable obstacle to any attempt to push further down the line, so they decided to investigate the spur leading of to the north on their left.
     They noticed the rails start to slope upwards, and they made their way up unto a low flat area.  An old rusty mine cart stood upon the tracks about in the middle of the raised flat space.  Cautiously they made their way to the cart; Salin moved to the far side to guard from anything approaching, while Songlyne looked at the old rusted hopper.  She let out a little gasp, as she noticed a skeletal arm laying on top of the ore in the cart, and wondered where in the world it had come from.  Then her Elven eyes noticed a metallic glint; and looked closer, the Archer spotted a golden ring upon the skeletal hand.  It seemed to glow of it's own accord.  Turning to Marny, she said "Miss, come and see."  And Songlyne proceeded to reach into the cart to remove the ring. It was then that she noticed the hand was clutching a leather pouch, almost invisible under it's covering layer of dust.  Taking it in her hand to feel the contents, she felt the distinctive disk shape of coins inside.
     No sooner had Marny came up and instructed the Archer to take the items, when Salin whispered back, "Someone's coming!  As they all turned to see as the Human Heritor Griffin came into view, ascending the slope on the far side, followed by one of his crew.
Songlyne recovers the treasure from the Mine Cart as Marny looks on, and Salin spots the Heritor Griffin, and his Archer, coming up the far slope.
    Back in the Vampire's room, everyone had moved into action.  Lilisea was the first to reach the coffin, and grasping the lid, heaved at it mightily, and it slid across the top and landed with a loud bang on the floor, breaking about a third of the way up from the far end.  The Crew-woman was at a loss though as to what to do with the main body of the stone coffin.   Just then Bindidell reached her, and the two grasped a small lip running along the top rim at the narrow end towards the foot of the evil object.  Heaving with all their might the two women were able to raise the end of the coffin about 18 inches off the ground.  As their strength was about to give out, Bindi, called, "Now!" and simultaneously releasing their fingers from the rim,  the pair stepped back quickly as the heavy stone came crashing to the hard floor under it's own weight.  At first it looked like nothing happened, and the two Elves looked at each other and frowned.
     "Wait," Bindidell said; and she moved forward, and kneeling at the side of the coffin, reached in and pulled aside the long red velvet cushion running the length of the bottom.  Sure enough there was a crack running across the floor of the coffin, a couple feet from the end.  (Bindidell destroys coffin, +10 EXP.) Before standing up, Bindidell noticed a small yellow silk pouch that had been hidden under the cushion.  (Central Treasure) Grabbing it, the Hunter quickly handed it off to Lilisea.  "Get this to safety." she ordered, and then stood up.
     As the two had worked at the coffin, Meriwyn ran to the door on the side wall as ordered, and pushing it open, stepped through.  There she found Skorri's Fox hiding in a short passageway containing a small rusty chest, and she sliced at the beast with her sword, putting a gash in it and sending it flying a few feet across the hall. 
Lilisea and Bindidell smash the Coffin, revealing the Central Treasure.  
     Meriwyn then prepared to finish the Fox for good, when both opponents were startled by a huge Cave Spider lumbering through the archway at the far end of the corridor and charging at the Elf.  Meriwyn was prepared, and before the Spider could reach her, she dodged to the side, and sank her sword deep into the creature's back, killing it instantly. (Rolls a 19)  The Crew-woman barely had tome to withdraw her gore-covered sword from the Spider's carcass, before Skorri's Pearl Diver rushed into the room as well, and catching sight of her, rushed at the Elf.  Reflexively, Meriwyn brought her sword around and blocked the man's thrust.  Then with a feint, she brought the blade up, and put a neat cut running up the Pearl Diver's chest and just clipping his chin.  (Rolls 17)  The Human staggered back, and Meriwyn braced herself for the man to come again.  In that instant of combat, she didn't notice the Fox slink up in the shadow of the wall, and leaping at her it sank it's teeth into her leg. The Crew-woman staggered back in pain, and her head hit hard against the ajar oaken door she had just come through. (Fox hits for -18 HP)  Meriwyn saw flashes of light for an instant, and it felt as if her brain hit the front of her skull.  She tried to stay conscious and standing. 'Help!" she cried out.
     Luckily for the Crew-woman, Lord Fortrywn had been moving along the gangway as she fought her desperate battle, and reaching the location of the door, he jumped down to the floor below.  The Heritor heard her call for help, and quickly pushed through the door, his crossbow at the ready.  Releasing a bolt, he hit the Fox before it could strike again, dropping it to the floor.  Then, quickly shouldering his crossbow, he drew his sword and shield and rushed at the Pearl Diver.  Meriwyn regained her senses enough to join him, but her wounds had taken her toll, and the Pearl Diver was able to simply shove her against the wall with his free hand as he brought his weapon up to defend against Lord Fortrywn.  The Crew-woman hit the rough stone hard and the wind was knocked out of her, as the pain of putting weight on her Fox-chewed leg brought firework explosions in her head.  The flashes faded as a blackness overtook her and she slid to the floor unconscious.
      Lord Fortrywn prepared to finish the Pearl Diver for good, but before he could thrust with his blade, his eye caught movement in the archway as Skorri Drakenburg himself burst into the room, with, oddly, a large Snapping Turtle following close behind.
As Tannin the Archer covers the gangway, Lord Fortrywn jump down and heads for the small side corridor to assist Meriwyn. Meanwhile,  By the Coffin, Lilisea prepares to claim the Central Treasure and depart.
     Meanwhile, back on the track by the mine cart, Griffin had reached the top of the level space in just a few short strides.  Bending over and picking up a loose rock the size of a human head, in one continuous motion, the Heritor hurled it at Songlyne as she stood behind the cart.  Quickly she ducked as the Rock clipped the edge of the cart with a loud metallic clang, and ricocheted off to the side.  The Archer was showered in bits of broken rock and flakes of rust.  That had been too close...  (Griffin hits with 22 total, Songlyne rolls 18 + 2 F + 2 Cover = Tie!)
   The Griffin was joined by his Archer, and the man let an arrow fly at Salin as the Pearl Diver stood at the front of the cart.  The shaft struck home in the Elf's right chest, sinking deeply into the muscle.  Salin gasped in pain and his knees wobbled, but he remained standing, and as best he could made his way to the back of the cart.
     In an instant Marnilyne was chanting her spell of Bramble, and like before, thick ropey curls of lichen sprouted from the floor right in front of the Human Heritor, nearly catching him in the rapidly growing branches.  Turning, Griffin frantically looked for another large rock, as the trio of Elves; Songlyne,  Marny, and Salin, turned and raced down the slope toward the intersection of the track.   As they went, Songlyne made sure the Ring and coin pouch were tucked securely in her pack.  Before they reached the corner at the bottom of the slope, another large stone came sailing through the air and hit Salin square in the back.  The Pearl Diver pitched forward from the force of the impact, and his head came down hard on one of the rusty rails, cutting a deep furrow across his forehead.  The two Elf women continued forward and turned the corner, passing out of the Heritor's view. Marny turned her head and looked back worriedly, hoping that Salin might get up and follow.   But he lie there unmoving in the growing shadows.
Marny uses Bramble to block the Heritor Griffin and his Archer from pursuit, before the trio head down the hill.
            Back in the small corridor outside the Vampire room, Skorri wasted no time and lunged at Lord Fortrywn.   The Elf Lord was ready for him, and blocked his strike. He counter thrust, and his Elven sword pierced the enemy's armor, cutting deeply into the Human's side.  Surprised, Drakenburg staggered back, his free hand clutching his bleeding wound. (I roll 19 and Skorri rolls 2!  I do 13 HP damage!)
   While the Human recovered himself, Lord Fortrywn brought his sword back around and struck the Snapping Turtle, cleanly removing one of it's legs. (I hit with a 22 total.)  The Elf raised his foot and kicked the beast back across the room.
   By now Skorri had recovered his wits, and for a second he closed his eyes, and he could see the room in his head and he forced his brain to visualize the coming combat.  (Uses his Intuition trait, gaining him automatic first activation.)  Opening his eyes, again he was on Lord Fortrywn in a flash, along with his Pearl Diver, the limping Snapping Turtle, and his own Hunter who now burst through the archway, being drawn by the sound of combat.   The Elf Lord's attempts at defense were useless as it seemed Skorri knew his every move.  In a flash, the Human Heritor's blade had found it's mark and he too cut a deep gash in his enemy's side.  (Skorri rolls 18+12F [for his F skill and 3 helpers]; I roll 1.)  Lord Fortrywn concentrated on the wound, and forced it to heal quickly using his Blood Gift of Mitigation.  As if by magic, the skin began knitting itself together again, though his blood burned fiercely. 
    While he had the upper hand, Skorri took advantage, and bringing his blade quickly back round with inhuman quickness (Backswing), he struck the Elf Lord hard in the arm.  Not only did the Human's steel cut deeply, but the sheer force of the impact unbalanced the Elf, and he fell sideways, coming down hard on the floor.  The air was knocked out of him, and his blood boiled like fire beneath his skin.  Once more, Lord Fortrywn tried to heal himself, this time unsuccessfully (Fail roll for Mitigation.).  The Snapping Turtle now struck, taking advantage of Lord Fortrywn being on the ground, and as the mighty jaws clamped down on his leg, the combined pain and Blood Burn passed his endurance and darkness closed in around the Elf's brain. 
Lord Fortrywn finds himself in a desperate battle against four opponents in the small side corridor. 
     While Lord Fortrywn fought in the corridor, over in the Vampire room, Bindidell had moved across the room to the far door, as Tannin had kept pace with her along the gangway above.  The two now engaged in a dual with two shooters from Skorri's crew.  Bindidell hit her target, while Tannin and the other enemy Archer exchanged shots that both went wide in the gloom.  Quickly, Bindidell notched another arrow and hit the opposing Archer once more. The wounded Archer ducked out of view of the Elf Hunter and the pair of enemy shooters now targeted Tannin up on the walkway; one hit the Elf Archer in his thigh, and nearly caused him to fall off of his perch.  The Elf gritted his teeth and fired his shot at the Human Bindidell had wounded, finally dropping the man.   The remaining Human Archer notched another arrow, and let it fly at Tannin, hitting him again, just inches from his previous shot.  This time the Elf's leg did give way, and Tannin tumbled off the walkway onto the stone floor below and lay there unmoving.
Tannin and Bindidell engage in an Archers' dual with two of Skorri's shooters. 
          Bindidell saw Tannin fall, but she maintained her post at the door guarding against any possible pursuers, while Lilisea and Bry made their escape with the loot from the coffin.  So intent were her senses attuned to the gloom in the hallway beyond the Vampire's room,  that it wasn't until the last second that she became aware of Skorri just a few paces behind her. The Human Heritor had crept cautiously across the room, and grabbing a sturdy wooden chair as he neared the Elf, was prepared to attack.  Quickly, the Hunter turned to face this new adversary, but in a blink he was upon her.  Sidestepping her attack, he brought the chair crashing down upon her head.  Bindidell collapsed to the floor, knocked out, under a pile of splintered chair pieces.
     The rest of the party had now made it to the intersection at the main hall through which they had entered the mine.  Lilisea and Bry made it there first, and saw Marny and Songlyne coming up the rails from the east.  The two Crew-woman paused to let the Warden and Archer catch up to them, and as they waited, Arbyn came jogging up from her post in the side corridor, her shirt spattered with brownish gore.  When Marny asked her about it, Arbyn said simply, "Killed a Ghoul," and smiled at the young Warden. (Random Encounter)
   They all waited a minute more, hoping more of the crew would join them; but no one else came.  Knowing the main priority was always to get their treasures back safely to the ship, they turned their backs on the darkness and headed for the light of the tunnel entrance.
The survivors make it down the main tunnel on their way out of the Mine. 
     They waited by the landing boats down in the village, while Lilisea and Bry reported to the Village Eldar that the Vampire had been killed.     As they stood on the small dock of the village,  one by one, the rest of the crew returned from the mines.  It seemed everyone was able to make it out, except for Salin the Pearl Diver.  They waited as long as they could, but as the sun was setting, Lord Fortrywn knew the wounded must get to the ship's doctor, himself included.  So they set sail for the Silver Sword, a short way out in the harbor.  It seemed all of them who made it back would make a full recovery.
     Late in the night, Lord Fortrywn sat in is cabin looking over their prizes from the day.  There was the ring that had come from the mine cart, that he was able to identify as a Ring of Protection; and with it in the sack were 30 gold coins.  The pouch from the coffin had contained 30 more gold coins, and a strange jade carving of a Mountain Goat (Jade Figurine).  The Heritor could tell it held magic from the slight tingle in his fingertips as he turned it over and over in his hands, but he would need his Niece's skill in magic to discern it's true nature. 
   As if on cue, as he thought of his Niece,  there was a light rapping on his cabin door, and a familiar lilting voice called out, "Uncle! Uncle! Come quick! It's Salin!"
     Sure enough it was the hearty Pearl Diver; soaking wet with quite the tale to tell.  He had woken up in the mine after dark, and been able to trace his way back down the rails to find the entrance.  Weak and stumbling, he had made his way back down the ridge only to collapse again upon reaching the village.  He had been taken to a  Healer there in the village, and the woman had fixed him up as best her skill allowed.  It was good enough that, despite his many injuries, the Pearl Diver was able to make the swim back to the ship.  Thank the gods for his swimming skills.  He now rested in the ship's surgery.  The doctor said he was Badly Injured with a concussion and a couple broken ribs where the rock had hit him...not to mention the arrow wound in his chest.  It would be a few months before he was back in action a again.
     Lord Fortrwyn thought of when they had first pulled the poor half-dead Pearl Diver from the  ocean almost a year ago.   He had continually shown such a will to live and stamina, time and again on their expeditions. He knew revenge drove the man, and a memory for lost loved ones; but there was something more that the Heritor could see; an inner strength that he had only seen in a few soldiers over the years.  Gwynwater had had it too... he stopped on the painful path of those thoughts, sighed, and focused again on the Peal Diver.   For such a brave and strong crew member, Lord Fortrywn didn't mind waiting.
The end results.  Five fallen, and two treasures. 


           Well, that went about as good as could be expected when going up against Skorri.  And I'm rather pleased to have actually managed to get the Central Treasure.  I think this is only my second time (or possibly third) retrieving the Central prize.  And I didn't do too badly with casualties, getting half my crew out alive.
     The scenario was a lot of fun.  There's a very different feel to the game when it's all confined to tunnels.   In retrospect, I think we should have started with a limited sight distance already in play since we were underground, but none of us thought of that before the game started, as we're just not used to it being an issue.  And, with the Cloud Cover in play from turn one, the situation was quickly corrected anyway.
   Next time we return to the rulebook scenarios; skipping over "Swampland"  in October and doing "Saurian Breakfast" instead.  We will return to "Swampland" in November, and then our big Christmas Extravaganza in December.   It's hard to believe there are only 3 more months of this campaign!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fall-In Playtest Day: Into the Abandoned Mine...

    This past weekend we playtested a couple of of our games for the upcoming Fall-In convention that we will be running in the HAWKs room on Saturday.  They both used all my, and Buck Surdu's, Tablescapes Dungeon Mines terrain from the recent Kickstarter. (Tablescape Dungeon: Mines)  There were 5 Core Sets and a a bunch of extras in play. 
An overview of the set-up before the first game.
   I ran the first game, using the under-development Feudal Patrol rules.  This was a twist of a regular Dungeon Crawl type of game, with each player controlling a conventional party of adventurers.  Players started with their packs full of treasure at the back of the abandoned mine dungeon, and had to make it out alive; all the while being pursued by a very big monster they have disturbed.   Along the way, each player had a hand of a half dozen cards they could play on their fellow adventuring parties. These cards sprung traps, summoned monsters, and caused other mishaps to occur; all in an attempt to slow the other guys down, and make them drop the treasure they were carrying.  Whoever made it out fastest with the most treasure was the winner.
A Dwarf Cleric prepares to welcome two skeletal interlopers.

A pair of Goblins block the path of the Barbarians.

A group of Humans negotiate a rickety wood walkway.
The second game, run by Buck, was a Weird War II outing featuring GIs investigating a secret Nazi lab hidden in an abandoned mine. The rules used were GASLIGHT.  Each player commanded a squad of American soldiers, while Giant Ants, Robots, , Nazis, and all sorts of other nasties awaited them.   The goal was to retrieve certain lab equipment and get it back out of the mine to safety.  Like the previous game, players had a handful of cards they could play on their fellow players in an attempt to slow them down.   
A group of GIs stumble into a group of Giant Ants

Another group of Soldiers meet a Giant Crab.

A Sergeant and a rescued captive faces off against an evil Robot.
     Both games were a whole lot of fun with much laughter, good natured back-stabbing, and corny movie quotes.  We're really looking forward to running these on the Saturday at the convention in November.    There will also be a third game in this series Saturday night, featuring Doctor Who, and helmed by Greg Priebe.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 8: The Eritherean Graveyards

    Two Saturday's ago, on the 18th, we got together for the eighth game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign.  We unfortunately only had 4 of our regular 8 players in attendance.  We continued to work on the scenarios in the rulebook, moving on to the sixth one: The Eritherean Graveyard.    Because of so few players, we only used a 5'x3' table, with two players on each side.  As per the scenario instructions, the 2 Central Treasures were placed within the graveyard temples; along with one of the regular treasures from each player.   The players' second treasures were placed normally.
    Because there were just four of us, we used dice rolling instead of our usual chips-in-a-bag method for determining player order.  I got second placement, and chose the spot opposite my old nemesis Skorri, who had first choice, rather than risk ending up across from Herndon and his wall of Archers.  With Skorri and his Beast Warden, Agger, opposite me; Herndon and his Wave Warden, Ashalla, did end up on my right, and Molly Malone and her Storm Warden, Niskaru, diagonally across from  me, facing Herndon.

To see my account of the previous game, see The Stone Circles

A view of the table, showing starting zones.
    The Report

        The Elf Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, had first heard the tales of the Eritherean Graveyards from the sailors on his ship, The Silver Sword.   About half of the sailors believed the stories of the ornate temples and surrounding burial halls of the Archipelago's large elephant men were false, while the rest believed in their truth, and that they contained piles of gold and other treasures not to mention valuable Eritherean Tusks; all just laying around for the taking.    Over the months the stories the Heritor had heard on his travels around the Archipelago continued, and he began to think there may be some kernel of truth to them.  However it wasn't until the Elf Lord had found the old scrimshaw map in the bazaar on their last supply stop, that he knew where to look for such a graveyard; to see for himself if the tales were true.
     The seller had thought it was just a novelty piece, with various symbols and swirling lines carved on it; but to the eyes of an old military campaigner like Lord Fortrywn,  it was easy to see it was a map of sorts.
     They arrived at the island a little after dawn, and made their way ashore.   It was easy going, as there were clear paths leading to the island's interior.  Marked trails worn by centuries of large flat feet, made by Eritherean pilgrims heading to their final rest.    They passed a number of stone markers, crude symbols carved on them, marking the way for the old and very sick Eritherians who made this one-way journey. 
     It wasn't long before the walls of a tall temple came into view.  They were crumbling and vine covered with age.  Moving closer, they spied one of the graveyard halls. Lord Fortrywn halted his crew to survey the area.  He could see the hall was also in a state of disrepair like the tall temple, it's walls all crumbled with sections missing in spots.  The roof, if there had been one, was long since collapsed and probably blown away.  The air hung hot and heavy with the smell of death and decay mixed in with the usual stink of the humid rotting vegetation of the jungle.
     Lord Fortrywn crouched down and turned to the crew, and assigned the commands.   With himself he took the Hunter, Bindidell; and the dependable Crew-woman, Arbyn; as well as the Pearl Diver, Salin.    He assigned to his Niece, Marnilyne, (she was also his Vine Warden); the Archer, Tannin; and the Crew-women, Bry and Lilisea.   Crewmen Finil  and Crew-woman, Meriwyn were with Marnilyne, but were instructed to help where needed.
Starting positions.  On the Left; Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell, Arby, and Salin.  On the Right; Marnilyne, Tannin, Bry, Lilisea, Meriywn, and Finil.
              Lord Fortrywn had not even risen to move forward, when he heard loud voices on the other side of the graveyard hall.  From a small area of jungle on the far side, men appeared, and the Heritor quickly recognized the riff-raff that sailed with Skorri Drakenburg, the accursed human Heritor who always seemed to show up and plague the Elf Lord.   Lord Fortrywn couldn't even begin to fathom how Skorri had found this place and managed to arrive at the same time that he had.  Was there a spy in their midst?
    The Elf Heritor didn't have long to ponder that thought, before a strange bellow rent the dank air, and a living Eritherean appeared directly in the path of Skorri's men.  Lord Fortrywn wasn't sure if it was a temple guard, or some poor soul who had been disturbed from his deathbed.  But, whatever it was, Lord Fortrywn was overwhelmed with joy at his good fortune; knowing that this interloper would buy him precious time, while Skorri and his crew had to deal with it.  Quickly, he gave the signal to advance, and under his breath he hissed, "Hurry!"
     Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell, Arbyn and Salin all rushed for the Graveyard.  Knowing time was critical, the Heritor Surged, and ignoring the rising heat in his blood, he unshouldered his bow, and took a quick shot at one of Skorri's Archers who was in turn aiming at the Eritherean.  Unfortunately, the Elf Lord's shot went wide. 
     Meanwhile, Marny and her group headed towards the tall temple to investigate what treasure it may contain.  Stopping at the corner of the graveyard, the Warden cast Ladder on the nearest corner of the temple, and thick ropey vines quickly grew up the side of the ruins to the very top; forming a sturdy natural ladder.  Marny turned to Bry and Meriwyn, and said, "You two climb up there and let me know what you see."
   Tannin, the Archer, took up a position to offer covering fire, but knew his job would be limited as clouds quickly began to boil up in the sky signifying somewhere a Storm Warden had cast Cloud Cover. (Molly Malone's Warden, Niskaru.)
Lord Fortrywn and the rest of his command rushes to the edge of the Graveyard, the Heritor Surging to fire his bow.  The Central Treasure can be seen on the wall in the middle of the Graveyard, near the top of the photo.
    Lord Fortrywn hadn't even taken a step into the graveyard, when his keen Elven ears detected the whisper of an arrow nearby, and turning, he saw Bindidell the Hunter cry out in pain as she was struck in the hip. (-7 HP) With the arrow, still in her leg, she quickly ducked behind a nearby pillar and returned fire, ineffectively though. The Heritor looked back to the far side of the graveyard, and saw Skorri himself, with his bow in hand.  So, not everyone was dealing with the rogue Eritherean that had appeared in the midst of the Human's warband, the Elf thought.
     Lord Fortrywn quickly turned back to the task at hand and rushed into the graveyard, with Arbyn the crew-woman close behind.  The remains of deceased Erithereans  were piled everywhere, in various states of decomposition; but for the most part the floor was littered with several inches of bones, some shattered and jagged.  Turning his head back, he gave a hushed warning to the others behind him to use caution when they crossed the floor, as he instinctively knew that some of the bone shards could most likely have the cutting potential of a sword.   
   On Lord Fortrywn's right was the remains of a high wall running down the center of the graveyard, standing a good foot over the Heritor's head; and sitting along the wall were various tokens and trinkets left by the Erithereans who had come to die. There were bunches of dead flowers, crudely carved figurines, a couple rusty weapons, plus other offerings and mementos.  What caught the Heritor's eye though, was an ornate chest with delicate gold inlay.  (The Central Treasure)  He gave a quick signal to Arbyn and then he began to climb the wall.  Arbyn veered to her right, and hopping up on a crumbled part of the wall, raced along the flat top, sending a couple small statues and a bowl of decayed fruit flying.  She was just a couple feet from the treasure when another arrow sliced the air, this one striking the Elf Crew-woman in the upper right chest. (-8 HP) Arbyn's feet went out from under her and she fell back hard on the wall.  The wind was knocked out of her and a surge of pain went through her body as she fought to stay atop the wall.   Arbyn righted herself, and ignoring the searing pain,  remained kneeling and crawled towards the treasure.  With her hand extended to pick up the chest, a second shaft sliced the air, and struck the Crew-woman in her thigh.  The leg gave way, and Arbyn toppled to the far side of the wall and lay unmoving among the shattered bones. 
    Quickly, Lord Fortrywn scaled the rest of the way up the wall, and Surging, he picked up the chest; as his blood burned he let his momentum carry him forward, and he dropped down on the far side of the barrier next to where Arbyn lie.   Form around the end of the wall, he could see that Skorri's band now had a Crocodile in their midst, who seemed to be obeying commands.  More importantly the Eritherean they had been fighting was laying in the jungle grass, dead. (One of Skorri's crew had used a Crocodile Jade Idol to help fight the Eritherean.) Lord Fortrywn knew their time was up.
Arbyn gets tantalizing close to the Central Treasure on the wall before Skorri brings her down.  Lord Fortrywn is climbing up to assist.  Over on the left, Salin moves towards the chest by the pillar.  
          While Lord Fortrywn and Arbyn had dealt with the chest on the wall, Salin had spotted a another small chest over on the far right of the graveyard, near a pillar along the wall.  It lay half buried in a pile of bones, and more mementoes left by the dying.  Quickly the Pearl Diver raced to it, but could see a pair of Skorri's crew heading the same way.  The Pearl Diver drew his sword and prepared to defend the prize.  The first human came wildly at Salin, and he easily cut the man down (Rolled a 20!) The other man was a better swordsman than his fellow crewman, but Salin was able to defeat him as well.
         Meanwhile, at the nearby tall temple, Bry and Meriwyn climbed higher up Marny's vine later.  The Warden herself, however, raced back along the graveyard wall where she could see Bindidell trying to bandage her wound.  She could tell from the Hunter's shaking hands that she was badly hurting, so quickly chanted the spell for Waters of Life, and healing water began to form like dew on the Hunters skin.  Bindidell was shocked at first, but looking up, she spotted Marnilyne, and nodded at the Warden in appreciation for the relief.
     The moment of distraction cost the Hunter though, and from around one of the nearby pillars, appeared Skorri's Pearl Diver.  The man sliced at the Elf, and put a gash across her stomach. (-7 HP)  The Hunter stumbled backwards, clutching the new wound, and trying her best to defend herself wielding her 2-handed sword with one hand.  As Bindidell tried to stay conscious, and keep the Human at bay, she became aware of a chittering above her, and as she glanced up a Screamer Monkey (Summoned by Skorri's Warden)  dropped down on her head, and sank it's fangs into the side of her neck.  The Hunter's whole body seemed to burn with pain from her many wounds, and quickly a darkness flooded into her head, and with the manic chittering of the monkey in her ears, Bindidell passed out and fell to the grassy ground.
     While the others fought desperately around the graveyard, Tannin the Archer had been distracted by a distant buzz that had gradually grown louder.  Turning from covering the tall temple, he spotted a large winged creature  flying over the trees in the distance; behind and to the left of where the group and entered. (Giant Wasp, treasure generated beast.)  As it got closer to the graveyard, he repositioned himself to get a clearer shot, and notching an arrow, fired at the creature.  The arrow hit the insect in the side, and it dropped to the ground like stone.  Bt it wasn't dead.  (1 HP remaining) It buzzed and twitched it's wings, and staggered around the ground for a minute.  Then to Tannin's amazement, with the arrow still sticking from it, the Wasp took off again, though in more of extended hops now than in true flight; and it headed directly for the Archer.
Lord Fortrywn hands off the Treasure to Finil, and Salin takes on two enemy Crewman and bests them both. 
     Over in the Graveyard, Salin now saw that the Crocodile was heading his way, along with others of  Skorri's Crew.  Marnilyn from the other side of the graveyard saw the enemies approaching him too, and she quickly cast Brambles near to where the Pearl Diver stood.  With the Brambles keeping him safe for the moment. Salin, knew it was time to grab the small chest.   As he picked it up with one hand, he noticed a beautiful pearly white tusk laying next to it, and grabbing the valuable ivory object with his other hand, shoved it into his belt. Quickly he turned and ran to get out of the graveyard.
     By this time, the Crew-woman Meriwyn had reached the top of the tall temple to survey the area and see if she could spy anything of value.  She could see two other crews fighting in another graveyard on the far side of the temple.  On the vines several feet beneath, Bry called up to her, "Well?"
    Meriwyn turned to answer, and as she looked down, noticed a bit of shiny metal in the moss and weeds growing on top of the crumbling temple.    Reaching down, the Crew-woman grabbed hold of whatever it was and pulled.  The Elf was surprised when a crossbow emerged from the tangle of vegetation.  She couldn't fathom how a crossbow had gotten up on the temple.  Well, yes, she could; as she looked around at the excellent field of fire below her.  However, this weapon was far from being usable, caked in dirt grime and decaying plant-life as it was; but the fact that the metal fittings still gleamed and had not rusted over, told Meriwyn that this was no ordinary weapon.  "Found something!"  she called to Bry.
   And as she brushed off what detrius she could from the crossbow, she called back to Bry, "Who's at the bottom?"
    Bry glaced down, and saw the other Crew-woman, Lilisea, standing guard at the base of the vines. "Lilisea," she answered.  At the sound of her name, Lilisea looked up, and Bry directed her attention to Meriwyn at the top.  Meriwyn indicated she was going to drop the weapon down, and then did so.  The Crew-woman on the ground caught it deftly.  With that, Meriwyn began to climb down, and to Bry said, "I didn't see anything else important. Let's get back to the others."
     Back in the temple, Lord Fortrywn could see, like Salin had, that the enemy was now closing in on them.  Looking back he saw the Crewman, Finil, coming up and motioned for him to hurry.  Quickly the Heritor handed off the chest to the Crewman, and then prepared to hold off Skorri's crew. 
     Lord Fortrywn didn't realize just how many enemy crew that meant; but with Salin walled off by Marny's Brambles,  the Heritor had become the easiest target to reach.  With in moments, Skorri's Hunter, Archer, a Crewman, and the Crocodile (who had subsequently had Beast Strength cast on him by Skorri's Warden), had all converged on Lord Fortrywn.  (Skorri's men had a +11 Fight bonus for the first combat!)  Even with his Heritor's ability, it was too many opponents, and the first wave of fighting left the Elf Lord, bloodied and battered, but still standing. (Skorri's men roll 17+ 11F= 28; Lord Fortrywn reduced to 5 HP).  Lord Fortrywn knew it was a hopeless fight, but he could at least try to buy his crew time to escape.  If he could just bring one of the enemy down...  But fate wasn't on the Elf's side.  Lord Fortrywn lunged at the group, but the many blades, and teeth, were too much, and he fell to the ground, with multiple wounds covering  his tall frame.
Lord Fortrywn is attacked by 4 of the enemy and overwhelmed.
          While Lord Fortrywn was unsuccessfully trying to hold back his four attackers, just a short distance behind him, his niece, Marnilyne, found herself in a similar predicament.   As she had been distracted casting the Brambles to protect Salin and his treasure, Skorri's Pearl Diver and the summoned Screamer Monkey, had moved on from defeating Bindidell, and now charged at the Vine Warden.  Marnilyne tried desperately to defend herself;  but she was no match for two opponents, and the Pearl Diver's blade sliced her across her shoulder as the Monkey yanked her hair and took bites at her head and neck.  It's claws gouged into her.  (Hit with an 18, leaving Marny with 6 HP.  The Elf flailed her arms, and tried desperately to dislodge the Monkey as she lurched back and forth.  The Monkey was flung off, and the Pearl Diver stood there, shocked by the spectacle of the frenzied Warden. (Marny denies to fight on her activation, trying to buy time.)  However, it did not take her opponents long to regroup, and they had now been joined by Skorri's Hunter.  In seconds the Warden's three opponents were back at her, and a final attack dropped her, bleeding from multiple bites and cuts, to the ground where she lay in a contorted heap in the tall grass.
   A dozen yards away, the Giant Wasp had made it's way to Tannin, and the Archer found his dagger little use against the giant insect.  It's wings were as much of a hazard as it's stinger, and as it came at him, he stumbled backwards, and the stinger caught hm in the leg.  He cried out in pain, as his thigh was pierced, and the Wasp's venom entered his system.  (Wasp hits with an 18 total, and Envenoms.) Tannin's insides felt like they were all being turned inside out.  Bile rose in his throat.  Desperately, he lashed out with his dagger, and though it scraped along the insect's chitinous body, it did not pierce it  The Wasp buzzed backwards as best it could.  (Tannin hits, but does no Damage; pushes the Wasp back.)  The Wounded beast came at him one more time, and once again it nearly knocked him down.  The Archer's eyes caught the shaft of the arrow he had shot earlier still sticking from the insect's side, and without thinking, before he fell, he grabbed onto it and pushed with all his might, sinking the metal tip deeper into the Wasp's body.  The creature seemed to convulse, and its legs contracted violently, as it's momentum brought it's full weight into the Archer, knocking him over again.  But this time the creature was dead.
Marny is attacked, as Finil makes it out of the graveyard.
          Back in the Graveyard, Finil picked his way through the bones and other debris, as he tried to get the Chest away as quickly as possible  A sudden piercing pain in his back sent him stumbling forward.  The Crewman knew he had been hit by an arrow (From Skorri; 3 HP remaining), but despite the pain he had to keep going.  Regaining his feet, he continued forward; hoping to distance himself in the gloom of the Cloud Cover
   By that time the two Crew-woman had come down off the vine ladder.  Bry, who was first, ran to protect Salin's back.  Meriwyn hit the ground just second later, and she ran to cover Finil's escape.  The Crewman had cleared the graveyard, his back searing with pain with each step, and was trying to make it to the cover of a patch of nearby jungle.  Another arrow whizzed by him; too close for comfort.  He was so glad to have help, as he was growing weaker, and he knew Meriwyn could carry the chest if something happened to him.  As if his thoughts mirrored reality, another arrow from Skorri found it's mark, and Finil went flying in mid stride, dropping the chest as he tumbled to the ground. (Skorri's Hit total: 20.)   Meriwyn gasped in shock.  She must get the chest!  Skorri however, using his Heritor's skill, had already notched another arrow, and he had the range.  Before the Elf Crew-woman even took a step towards the the prize, an arrow found her as well; and with one clean shot to the lower back, sent her sprawling to the ground, where she lay motionless next to Finil.  (Skorri's second shot total is a 24!)
     A couple dozen yards away,  Tannin had managed to push the dead Wasp off him, and he struggled to stand up despite the overwhelming poison-induced nausea.  The Archer turned to find himself almost face to face with Skorri's Hunter, and before he could even raise his dagger the enemy had stuck his sword in his gut.  Tannin fell to ground, bleeding severely, and vomited before passing out. 
    Salin and Bry continued to flee with their chest, and likewise, just a dozen yards further on, Lilisea ran with her Crossbow.  Skorri's men pursued for a short distance, but in the dark gloom they decided not to get too strung out, and halted; content to have claimed three treasures for the day.   
Help arrives as Meriwyn moves to cover Finil's back (to the left), and Bry cover's Salin's (near top center of photo).  In the lower right, Lilisea makes it to the cover of a patch of jungle.
      Later that night, Lord Fortrywn lay in his bed, bandaged nearly from head to toe, and pondered the day.   The Heritor wasn't sure how he had recovered enough strength to get back to his ship, much less carry the limp form of his Niece to the landing boat.  Thank heaven for his Heritor's blood.  Marny was not much better off, but at least she would recover as well.  She too looked like a walking mummy; particularly with her head all swathed in bandages from the damage the Monkey had done.  The surgeon had assured the Warden the tip of her ear would grow back.
     Lord Fortrywn didn't even want to consider what the day had cost him.  His Hunter, Bindidell, was badly wounded from her encounter with the Pearl Diver and the Screamer Monkey, and might not make it.  Likewise, The Archer, Tannin, was not doing well, between the poison from the Giant Wasp, and deep stomach wound, the ship's surgeon was not sure he would survive the night either.  And, lastly, the Crewman Finil was looking like he might not live as well.  Skorri's first arrow, had hit a lung, and he lost a lot of blood from the wound.  It's amazing he had got as far as he had.    Lord Fortrywn was not a praying man, but he said one now to the Elvish Gods.  It has not been easy decision for the Heritor, but the surgeon had been insistent; if he wanted these people to live, they needed to get serious medical help... the kind only available at a major port.  And so they were headed for the mainland.  A trip they could ill afford.
     There was little on the bright side for Lord Fortrywn to look upon.  Yes, they had recovered two treasures, but that little made up for the injuries to his crew, and the expenses they now had to pay.  The chest that Salin had brought back from the graveyard had contained two bottles of Potion of  Regeneration  (I rolled 12 on the Herb & Potion table twice!) And at least he could sell one or both of them to help pay their way to port.  And the clever Pearl Diver had had the quickness of mind to grab a tusk in the midst of the chaos.  That would bring a very good price in the port as well.  Also, the Crossbow Lilisea brought back was a beauty of Superior quality.  The Elf Lord considered he may just have to keep that for himself.   And, luckily, if you could call it that, the rest of those who had fallen that day would make relatively quick recoveries... well, at lest they didn't require expensive medical care he thought.  And with that, he closed his eyes and tried to find the rest he desperately needed.
The ending body count.
     Arrg, what a fiasco! 
     I was so happy when on the first turn my initiative roll, last place as it was, triggered the appearance of an Eritherean that I got to place anywhere out of LOS.  Skorri's crew had not moved that far onto the table, and I was able to place it directly in his path behind a patch of jungle.  How was I to know his crew was carrying a Jade Idol of a Crocodile!
     And I made the cardinal mistake of dividing my crew.  The thought of the treasure on the temple, and the ease at which I could get to it using my Ladder spell clouded my judgement to the overall battle.
    And as usual, my dice luck was running at it's usual low level, with my crew getting last or next to last initiative every turn.    Compounded by Skorri's dice luck running at its peak height.
     Of interest in the game was that once again we had the channelling of the crews so that the encounter quickly devolved into two 2-player games.  A number of factors contributed to this I think.  One was that the majority of the treasures on both sides (3 out of 5) were located within the graveyard.  The other was that, with these rules, you just can't afford to let folks wander around; you need all your power in the same area, or the enemy will quickly overwhelm you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 7: The Stone Circles

     This past weekend we got together for the seventh game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign.  We had 6 of our regular 8 players in attendance.  We continued to work on the scenarios in the rulebook, moving on to the fifth one: The Stone Circles.    We used an 8'x3' table, with three players on each side.  As per the scenario instructions, the 3 Central Treasures were placed within circles of standing stones which stood upon low hills; though instead of the 6" deep water moats and pools that the rules suggest, we decided to just make the entire table a deep water table, and the hills we turned into islands.
        I was relatively lucky in drawing for starting position, getting fourth choice. This gave me the opportunity to know where three of my opponents would be located, yet still have 3 seats to choose from.    I selected a spot on the last remaining corner, with two treasures in apparent easy reach, and two more obtainable with a little effort. Whether I could get to the central treasure would be an on-the-fly-call, depending on how events unfolded.    Kragmar of the True Blood, and his Storm Warden, Samael Gale ended up across from me; and Skorri Drakenburg and his Beast Warden, Agger, were on my direct right.   The Heritor Herndon, and his Warden Arwhine, were across from Skorri, putting them to my front right.   The Heritor Gregorious and his Storm Warden, Missy; as well as the Heritor Griffin and his Wave Warden, Ashalla were down the far end of the table.

To see the report from the previous game, see: The Blood Totems
A view of the table and set up areas.
The Report

     The Elven Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, rapped his finger on the rail of the Silver Sword as he gazed across the misty waters off the starboard side.  He had been told the mystical standing stones were located upon a large island, placed in circular patterns upon small hills with moats around them.   And while technically, the stones were on small hills, and there was water surrounding them, it wasn't so much a single large island they were on, as a chain of dozens of little hill-like islands, some of which had the circular stone henges on them.  Had the big island flooded? Sank? The mysteries of the Ghost Archipelago continued to amaze and frustrate the Elf Lord.
     The Silver Sword could go no further in the narrow channels, so they would need to get the small launches into the water.  And that would mean delays. It was thirty minutes later that they were in the launches and heading for the nearest island upon which one of the stone circles stood.  The tall stones rose from the island's center, ancient and worn. 
     Lord Fortrywn divided his crew into two groups; thinking that taking only two launches would be more prudent.  The Heritor didn't want anyone getting lost in the maze of small islands, and he remembered the fiasco that had been the expedition to the Island of Floating Hulks were he had split the group into three boats, and they had been systematically cut to pieces.  Lord Fortrywn had lost Gwyn that day.  The old Elf sighed at the memory, and closed his eyes for a moment. He suddenly felt as ancient and worn as the large upright stones looming in the mist before him. She had been there at the start, the most loyal.  The Heritor shook his head, and regaining himself, he turned and looked at the crew behind him and in the boat to his port side  With himself he took the Hunter, Bindidell; and the dependable Crew-woman, Arbyn; as well as the Crew-woman, Meriwyn.  He assigned to his Niece, Marny's boat, (she was also his Vine Warden); the Archer, Tannin; the Crew-woman, Bry; the Crewmen, Finil; and Crew-woman, Lilisea, who was on her first expedition ashore.   Between the two boats, swam the Pearl Diver, Salin.  He felt he could make better time using his own powerful muscles than relying on the slower launches; so had urged Lord Fortrywn to allow him to forego riding in one of the smaller boats.

Lord Fortrywn's deployment, and the location of the closest treasures.
     As they neared the island, Lord Fortrywn surveyed the area, and motioned to Marnilyne, his niece and Warden, to steer her boat to the left, over towards a pair of islands that were linked by an old rickety wood bridge.  The Heritor direct Salin, the Pearl Diver, to swim over to a similar pair of linked island on their far right, while Lord Fortrywn directed his boat to row directly at the central island with the standing stones.
     As the Warden's boat bumped the rather steep edge of the nearest island on the left, Crew-woman Bry was first to leap ashore.  She couldn't believe her good fortune as she nearly tripped over a small chest half buried in moss and jungle undergrowth.  Quickly the Elf pried it lose.  Following her ashore in quick succession were Tannin, the Archer, who took up a position to offer covering fire in a small patch of jungle covering the center of the island; then the Crew-woman Lilisea, who made her way through the jungle after Tannin; and last from the boat was Crewman Finil, who circled around the far aide of the island.  Gazing over at the nearby larger island, the one her Uncle was heading to, Marny could see shadowy figures in the morning mist climbing the far bank of the island, and knew another crew was approaching.  Quickly, the Warden spoke the spell of Plant Walk, causing a small patch of tangled vegetation to slowly crawl around the outer edge of the large island, in an attempt to slow the progress of these new arrivals.
Opening moves, Turn 1: Marny's crew disembarks on the first small island, where Bry grabs the closest treasure, and Lord F. heads his boat towards the central island. Salin is in the water and about to swim towards the left side of the photo.
     Lord Fortrywn could see the opposing crew as well, and cursed his luck, and cursed the delay that had set them behind that morning.  The Elf's aggravation grew as he saw the big red-skinned Heritor, Kragmar of the True Blood,  stride up the far side of the island and enter the stone circle.  The Elf Lord's aggravation turned to shock as suddenly a glowing blue spirit form, wielding a translucent sword materialized in the center of the circle, and  lunged at Kragmar, putting a large slice across the enemy Heritor's gut.  (I rolled a 20 for the Spirit Warrior, doing 14 HP damage to Kragmar!)  Through gritted teeth, the big red warrior shouted to his crew behind, saying, "Get up here!"  The Lord Fortrywn then noticed the low boat on the far side of the island, from which three big burly fighters now spilled onto the shore to help their master.  A lone Archer was left in the boat, and a spark of an idea formed in  the Elf's's mind, as he came within just couple yards from the island.  Suddenly the skies began to boil with dark clouds, and Lord Fortrywn, feeling the tingle of magic, knew someone had cast a Cloud Cover spell. Probably Kragmar's Warden he figured.
      In just a few seconds more, The Elves' boat hit the shore, and Lord Fortrywn bounded out, almost immediately he came upon a small chest half buried on the shore, and without breaking stride, pointed at Arbyn and then to the wooden box. The Crew-woman knew what to do, though was a bit shocked to see her Heritor head not for the stone circle, but instead for the small boat with the lone Archer in it.  It took the Arvyn but a second to figure out what he was going to do: deny Kragmar his primary means of getting off the island.   As Lord Fortrywn headed for the enemy's boat in the growing gloom, and Arbyn recovered the treasure, Crew-woman Meriwyn selflessly interposed herself between Arbyn and the enemy Archer in the boat; just in case he should get any ideas of denying them their find. 
     The third rider in Lord Fortrywn's boat, Bindidell the Hunter, took up a position behind one of the tall upright stones.  She let loose an arrow at Kragmar, but it went wide. As she reached for another missile, she was suddenly hit by a powerful Wind Blast spell from Kragmar's Warden.   The Hunter pressed herself against the nearby stone, and dug her heels into the sandy soil.  Somehow she held firm, and the gust blew around her but the small Elf held firm.  (I rolled 17 +3 Will to the the Warden's cast of of 19!)
As Kragmar and his crew tangles with the Spirit Warrior in the center of the standing stones, Lord Fortrywn tries to do an end rush and grab the enemy's boat. Arbyn grabs the treasure on the back side of the island, as Meriwyn interposes herself between her crewmate and the enemy Archer.  On the top right, Bindidell takes up position behind a tall stone to fire into the melee. In the background, Salin swims towards the island where he will find the magic sword.  
         The enemy Archer, seeing the onrushing Elf , notched an arrow and let it fly.  The shot found a joint in the armor of Lord Fortrywn's right arm at the elbow, and just sliced along the edge, leaving a deep bloody furrow. (-5 HP)  In two more leaping steps, the Heritor hopped upon the prow of the boat, and swung his sword down at the Archer.  The enemy bowman ducked low, and came up with his dagger, this time getting Lord Fortrywn in the knee, and cutting another gash into him (Another -5 HP) The Heritor's blood began to burn, and he Surged forward with a powerful thrust, sinking his Elven blade deep into the Archers chest (Rolled 17 + 5F=22) The man toppled over the side of the boat and sank into the murky water. 
     By now Kragmar, and four of his men had killed the Spirit Warrior; at the cost of another Crewman.  With a grunt the enemy Heritor pointed at the small bejeweled stone head which sat at the center of the stone circle, and turning, made his way towards his boat along with one of the other crew.   The second Crewman moved forward and began to heave at the jeweled head, while a third Crewman, and an Infantry-woman rushed towards Bindidell, who still stood behind the tall standing stone.   As the Hunter saw the two adversaries approach, she drew her 2-handed sword.  The Elf seemed to adopt a defensive stance but at the last minute switched, and taking the offensive, lunged at the enemy Crewman, .  The man was caught off guard, and though the blade barely sliced his jerkin he lost his balance as he leaned away from the swipe of the Elven steal and staggered a few steps backwards. (I won the Fight roll, but did no damage, then pushed the enemy back.)  The Infantry-woman was now right on top of Bindidell. and hacked downward at the small Elf.  Quickly, the Hunter brought her big sword around, and blocking the other woman's blow, she repositioned her own blade and thrust it deeply into her enemy's side. (Rolled 17 + 2 Fight +2 Damage =21.) The Infantry-woman stumbled backwards, clutching her bleeding torso.
As Arbyn drags her treasure back to their boat, and Kragmar arrives at his boat where Lord Fortrywn has just dispatched the Archer,  Bindidell suddenly finds herself the target of two of the enemy crew. 
     Before Bindidell could recover her stance, another Wind Blast from Kragmar's Warden, Samael Gale, hit the Hunter squarely, catching her unprepared. The gust picked the Elf clean up off the island, and tossed her almost 25 yards away; dropping her right into the water as easily as if she had been a leaf.   In the small boat not that far away, Marny had a clear view of the two adversaries on the island who had been fighting Bindidell, who themselves seemed almost as shocked at the Elf Hunter's sudden flight, as the Hunter herself had been.  Chanting under her breath, the Elf Warden cast Warp Weapon on the wounded Infantry-woman, bending her sword into useless scrap metal. (I rolled a 9.)  On the small island behind the boat where Marny was, Tannin tried a long shot at the enemy woman, but in the dark cloud cover, missed his mark. 
     Soaking wet, with green swamp-weed clinging to her hair and clothes, Bindidell climbed from the water and up the shore of the island. Pausing, she unshouldered her bow, and quickly laying an arrow, released it at the Infantry-woman.   It hit the target squarely, sending the enemy reeling backwards where she fell and lay in the island's tall grass.
After Bindidell bests Kragmar's two crew and pushes them back, Kragmar's Warden blows the Hunter clean off the island.
     Meanwhile, Lord Fortrywn didn't even have time to unmoor the enemy's small boat, before Kragmar himself leapt directly into the middle of the vessel causing the little craft to rock wildly back and forth, nearly pitching the Elf Heritor into the water.  One hand on his sword hilt, the big red barbarian Heritor glared at the unwelcome passenger as first one and then a second of his crew got on board with their master; the second Crewman was carrying the bejeweled head.  Lord Fortrywn could see the enemy Heritor was still bleeding from the gash the Spirit Warrior had given him, and the Elf was all too aware of the wounds he himself had received at the hands of the enemy Archer.  With a grunt and a nod of his head, Kragmar indicated to the man at the fore of the boat to cast off, as the man who had been carrying the treasure, now picked up a pair of oars.  Quickly the Elf calculated his odds; there were three of them, but Kragmar was wounded, though he was wounded too. He cursed in old Elvish, and turned to see the water between the boat and the island getting wider.  The time for action had arrived, and turning, Lord Fortrywn leapt for the receding shoreline of the large island.
      Lord Fortrywn was not the only new arrival on the island, as on the far side  Salin the Pearl Diver, climbed up on the bank clutching a  grime-encrusted 2-handed sword he had found on one of the islands he had investigated.  Despite the grime, he could sense the magical vibrations in the weapon just by holding it.  The water ran from his muscular body in tiny rivulets, as he stuck the magic weapon in his belt, and headed for their nearby boat, where he saw Arbyn already seated with a small chest tucked under her seat, and the oars at the ready in her hands.  Nearby, Meriwyn shouted a greeting to the Paarl Diver, and as she did she caught sight of an area of glowing blue fog form in the middle of the stone circle.  Quickly the mist formed into a figure of a warrior with horns on his head; the Spirit Warrior wasn't really dead apparently.  Thinking quickly, Meri once again placed herself between the danger and the two treasure carriers. In seconds the Spirit Warriors had seen her and charged.  The Elf Crew-woman met his blow, and with a parry and thrust forced the creature back (I won the combat but didn't do damage.)
Lord Fortrywn suddenly finds himself being rowed away by superior enemy numbers.
     Back on the pair of linked islands that Marny's boat had headed for, Lilisea had reached a chest on the second island of the pair, but a boat carrying the enemy Warden and a pair of Crewman arrived at the same time, so a bit of stalemate ensued, as everyone eyed each other, and no one dared be the one to turn his back to pick up the treasure.  Finil arrived just in time to reinforce her, but no sooner had he arrived then Kragmar's Warden cast a Wind Blast upon the Crew-woman, sending her spiraling head over heels across the prow of the enemy's boat and into the water. 
     Back on the island they had originally landed on, Tannin still held his position in the patch of jungle.  Suddenly, on the far side of the trees, he heard a rustling, and a groan like noisy bellows, and from under a pile of sticks and vines, a sleeping Swamp Troll sat up and yawned.  All the activity on the island must have woken him.  Quickly, the Archer moved to get a clear shot, and releasing an arrow, struck the Troll in the arm. (-4 HP) Now the Troll was awake, and standing to his full height he let out a loud bellow.
     Nearby in their boat, Marny cast Brambles in the channel between the standing stone island and the bridge connecting the two side islands as a precaution to block the waterway from pursuit by any of the enemy vessels.
A view of the battle around Turn 4. The Swamp Troll has just woken up on the first small island on the right.
     Over by the enemy Warden's boat, Lilisee came to the surface and spat out water.  In the boat, the Warden was casting again and tried another Wind Blast, on Finil this time.  But the Elf Crewman held his ground despite the hurricane like gust that assaulted him.  With that attempt failing and Finil being all alone, one of the enemy Crewmen in the boat leapt onto the shore brandishing his sword and lunged at Finil.  The Elf Crewman's ears rang from the wind blast, and he tried desperately to get his sword around to defend himself. The Elf was a second too late though, and the enemy's blade slid along his weapon and sank into the his side. As the enemy's blade struck him, Finil twisted his wrist so his sword tilted up slightly, and as the enemy thrust towards him, he caught the man in a moment of overconfidence, and used the enemy's momentum to drive his own Elf blade into the enemy's gut.  The man's eyes widened in pain and he pulled back, as Finil too staggered a couple steps away.  (Both of us roll 19 and do -9 HP to each other.)  Both adversaries tried to remain standing despite the severe wounds.
        As Finil fought the enemy Crewman, Lilisea swam toward the enemy boat, and gracefully climbed up the side.  Before Samael Gale, the Warden, knew she was even there, the willowy Crew-woman gave a mighty thrust with her 2-handed sword and speared the spell user through his torso.
         Back on the other nearby little island, Tannin found himself almost face to face with a very angry Swamp Troll.  Thinking quickly, Marny spoke the Bramble spell again, and as the big monster prepared to club the Elf Archer, thick ropey vines shot from the earth at the Trolls feet, and began to curl upwards while sprouting with long spike like thorns.   The Troll was confused and didn't know quite what to do with this new obstacle, which nearly obscured his target.
The fight in the enemy's second boat.  Lilisea guts the enemy Warden like a fresh caught fish, while the wounded Finil and enemy Crewman fight on the shore.  
     Back on the big island, Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell made their way to the waiting boat where Arbyn and Salin were waiting, giving the stone circle a wide berth.  Within the circle, the noble Meriwyn dodged to and fro, sparring with the Spirit Warrior.    Lord Fortrywn  was just a few yards from the boat, and Meri knew it was time to get out of her predicament.   Gracefully leaping up, and holding her sword with two hands she dove at her ghostly opponent. With satisfaction she watched the shocked look on the spirit's translucent glowing face as her sword plunged down into its body. It was just a split second later that she realized the awful truth; the Apparition's weapon had also found it's mark, and the glowing blue blade now ran from just above her pelvis and upward out her side below the back of her ribcage. With a sight gasp she crumpled to the ground.  The Spirit Warrior's glow dimmed and faded but it did not dissipate; it simply hovered above the spot where the now-missing stone head had been, seeming to be weak and indecisive.   (Both opponents roll 20s, KO-ing Meriwyn, but leaving the Spirit Warrior with 2 HP left.)    While the creature wavered, Lord Fortrywn rushed over and grabbed the limp Crew-woman's body and bounded with her back to the boat.
    Meanwhile, those waiting in the nearby boat found themselves being plagued by a large Blood-drinker Bat.  It shot like an arrow out of the gloom straight for them.  Wielding her 2-handed sword, Bindidell swung at it, but merely swatted it. (Won the Fight, but did no damage) The Bat dodged back and flew a few dozen yards into the air.  The Hunter grabbed her bow and took a shot at it, but missed.  The creature seemed to hesitate, apparently realizing the threat that these potential victims posed, and contented itself to merely hover in the air considering its next move.
As Lord Fortrywn nears the boat, the Spirit Warrior takes out Meriwyn, and a Blood-drinker Bat menaces the boat.
     Back on the second small island,  Finil gathered his remaining strength (1 HP remaining), and made a last stab at his equally badly injured enemy, finding his mark and knocking the man into the water.  With heavy breath he collapsed to the grass, exhausted, and forgetting all bout the treasure which lay partially concealed nearby.   Slowly he began to crawl back towards the first island where he knew Marny was waiting with the boat.
      In the meantime a second enemy Crewman (the one that had fought Bindidell on the big island a couple turns earlier) swam up to the boat where Lilisea was, and she suddenly found herself about to be outnumbered.     Seeing Lord Fortrywn and the others departing in their own craft, the Elf decided discretion was the better course, and jumped over the side, and swam for safety.
The end results.  Three treasures recovered, and Meriwyn the only figure that goes down during the game. 
     Latter that night, aboard the Silver Sword, Lord Fortrywn sat at his desk, the two small chests and the dirt-encrusted 2-handed sword all set before him.    Setting his wine glass down, he arched his fingers together on his stomach and leaned back taking it all in. The first expedition where they had retrieved 3 treasures!  The Heritor was pleased.  Across from him sat his Niece, fidgeting in her chair excitedly.   He arched an eyebrow at her and said with a pleased grin, "Shall we see?"
     Marnilyne nodded grinning ear to ear.  Lord Fortrywn slowly leaned forward and gently picked up the first small chest. It was locked, but the fittings were so rusted, that he was able to slide his dagger into a gap in the back of the chest, and with a little of his Heritor's ability, broke the hinges clean through.  He slowly pulled back the lid, and saw the glimmer of gold inside.  There wasn't much, but still, 20 GP  was better the nothing.   
     The other chest held 2 vials.  The first held a small sprig of Lingle Berries, the second held a small segment of Quickbeam Root.  Lastly, he picked up the long 2-handed sword.  Dipping his fingers in the glass of wine sitting to the side of his desk, he rubbed them on a small section of the blade and the grime came easily away.  The metal beneath seemed to glow from an internal light. The Elf held his fingers for a moment on the clean section of blade, and considered.  "Vengeful in nature.",  he said, musing to himself, and set the sword back on the desk.  (+1 Dam Magic Sword)
    He turned his attention to his Niece.  "All in all a successful day.  Any word on our wounded? How is the Crew-woman who was struck down by the Spirit Warrior?"   
     Marny collected her thoughts for a moment, then spoke. "The Surgeon said they all will make a full recovery.  Meriwyn's wound, though bad to look at, actually passed mostly harmless along her side, just under the skin layer.  It avoided her major organs."
     "Lord Fortrywn nodded, "Good. Good."  We will need everyone at full health soon.  I've been researching a fabled graveyard of the Eritherean people.  Not only are their tusks highly prized, but they are known to lay relics with their dead, to pay for the passage to the afterlife"  There may be clues to the Crystal Pool among them." He paused, and thought to himself for moment, considering some detail of legend, then went on, leaning forward towards his Niece,  "We will be heading to find it at first light, so you should get some rest". With that, the girl jumped up, and obeying her Uncle, slipped out the door and gently shut it behind her.

     It turned out to be quiet a fun game! And another personal best, with 3 treasures retrieved.  I have to say I enjoy the game much more when my warband's not being used to clean the jungle floor!  I was actually rolling dice competitively this game instead of being out-rolled at every turn.
     I think another reason I enjoyed the game a little more, was that due to the nature of the scenario, and the terrain layout, the game quickly evolved into 3 two-player games.  So much so that once initiative for the turn was established, each pair kind of worked through the individual turn phases at their own pace, only stopping at the end for everyone to catch up again.
      I wanted to add a note about Lord Fortrywn's unfortunate boat ride.  I wasn't shocked to see Kragmar and his crew head for the boat with the Central Treasure, figuring I was in for a fight.  What I was surprised to see, was his refusal to initiate a fight.  But I have to say it was a pretty clever move on the part of my opponent: he didn't have to fight!  While both our Heritors were badly wounded (Kragmar -14HP for fighting the Spirit Warrior, and me -10 HP from the Archer.), he outnumbered me with two extra crewman.  The real problem for me was his boat was two turns from the table edge and there were three opponents.  I knew the odds of me defeating all three were low, but I would have been tempted to try; but the odds of me defeating three of them in two turns was astronomical.  So I had to make a quick decision and that decision was to jump for the island.
     The game really was a close-in engagement, due to a large degree to the scenario; particularly the treasure placement restrictions so close to the central stone circle, and the respawning of the Spirit Warrior every time it was killed.  Next month promises to be very similar with the majority of treasures being placed within a 12"x12" temple, and the temple floor being littered with knife-sharp bone shards.
     The game had a very sudden death ending when the last of Gregorious' warband left the table in turn 6.  So, Kragmar and I were kind of left hanging with the treasure on the second small island unclaimed at the end.  Because of this, I had to take some liberties with my narrative report and have added a few bits that weren't in the game but were needed to wrap up the story; like Finil being too weak from his wound to remember to pick up the treasure, and Sir Fortrywn grabbing Meriwyn off the island before the boat left, as examples. Hopefully that won't disturb anyone's enjoyment of the report.

For Skorri's report from this game, see: The Stone Circles

    See you all next month!