Monday, January 16, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 1: The Eclipse

     This past Saturday we got together to play the first game of our new 2017 Frostgrave Campaign.  This year our goal is to play a game each month and work our way through the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" (TotLL) supplement book.  Since this book only has 10 scenarios in it, we will also be doing two games with scenarios of our own design.
     For those interested in reading my reports from last year's campaign, they start here: Frostgrave 2016.
A view of the table
     We had only 6 of our 8 regular players available for Saturday's game, so we used a 9' x 3' table set-up.  We ran the first scenario from the TotLL book, The Eclipse, which features a limited visibility of 16 inches at the start of the game due to the darkness caused by the impending titular eclipse.  Then each turn visibility reduces until turn 5 when the eclipse has reached its peak.  On that turn there is a surge of magical power, and then visibility starts increasing again each turn.  
     We placed treasure, as well as determined set-up positions and turn order, normally using our numbered-poker-chips-in-a-paper-bag method.  My new Sigilist, Quailelyn, and her Apprentice, Bailisette, started in one corner of one table.  (To read a prologue story about my two magic-users and how they came to journey to Frostgrave, see here: Prologue.)  To their right was the warband of an Elementalist, and across from them was the warband of a Soothsayer named Gru.  Diagonally across from them was another Sigilist, named Bemis.

A view of Quail's starting position, located near the center-right bottom of the photo, near the yellow ruler. 

      But our story begins little earlier in the day...

     Maga Librarian Quailelyn sat at a table in a crowded tavern in one of the several crossroad villages that had sprung up in the last couple years on the far outskirts of Frostgrave.   Next to her sat the Apprentice Librarian, Bailisette, and across from her sat the knight, Sir Cardidil.  While the two women intently studied an ancient tome opened before them, Sir Cardidil kept a watchful eye on their surroundings.
   "I still can't believe you took one of the atlases from the Library's antiquities section!" Bailisette said to her superior in a hushed voice.
   "That's not all I took, Bailey", Quail said, and she tilted her head to the floor where a large pack sat with obvious book-shaped bulges in it.  "And I prefer the term 'borrowed'.  It is a library book after all; and being the Maga Librarian does come with some privileges I would think."
     The two turned back to study the ancient map on the page opened before them.  "I thought this atlas of Feldstad might come in handy in locating some good areas of the city to search," Quail whispered, "but leave it to a map drawn by wizard cartographers to be almost unintelligible without the right secret key to reading it. (Failed before-game Reveal Secret rolls for both spellcasters) The Sigilist sighed and reached over and closed the large atlas.
    Quailelyn looked up at the knight. "Shouldn't those soldiers you hired be here soon?" she asked.
   "Yes, ma'm," the knight answered. And as he glanced at the sunlit door, he stood up and said, "In fact here they are now."
The group enters the city, as Quail gets a better view from atop a crumbled pillar. Two treasure are located in the ruin to the left, just visible along the top left side of the photo.
        As the Sigilist approached the ruined city, she couldn't help but notice that the day had grown unusually dark for the hour.  She scanned the sky and could see a large object starting to pass before the sun.  "That can't be a good omen," she thought to herself as she listened to the hushed nervous whispers from the warriors behind her.   The Librarian stopped for a moment and turned to the group following her.  She had taught more than one unruly class in her day, so knew a bit about taking charge, but commanding people under dangerous circumstances was new to her.  The key was not to show her own uncertainty.   She pointed to Luc Demic the crossbowman; Clol the thug, and Sir Cardidil, and said in an authoritative manner "Why don't you three come with me."  She then pointed to Sallisee the archer, Dorchesman the thief, and Barc the thug, and said, "And you three go along with Bailisette."  The Maga Librarian then looked at the thieves Kinny and Innis Flin and said to them, " You two stay close, and keep your eyes open."
     Quail then approached some sort of old ruined temple and climbed up on the stump of the collapsed central pillar to get a better view of the immediate area. She quickly noticed two promising looking chests laying in a ruined building over to her left. She gave a hushed call to Bailey and pointed them out to her, and mouthed the word "Telekinesis".  Quailelyn then quietly spoke the Telekinesis spell, and directed her thoughts towards an ancient trunk on the second floor of the ruin, which suddenly shook and then broke free of the ice and snow that held it and began to drift slowly through the air towards her. It went a couple dozen yards or so towards the wizard and then dropped to the snow covered ground.
  Quail jumped down from her perch, and as she did so she glanced up at an old ruined watchtower on the low hill in front of them. It was covered in several old long-forgotten Wizard Eyes, used in ancient times to keep a guard on the city...but did she just see one of them blink? (The wizard Gru successfully cast Wizard Eye onto the tower  from the far side of the hill).  She took a second quick look at the watchtower to make sure she wasn't seeing things,  and after reassuring herself all was normal, she turned to look at Bailisette expectantly.   The Apprentice knew the Maga Librarian's gaze was upon her and she very much wanted to impress her on this first test of her abilities outside of the confines of the university. The young woman stared at the treasure chest sitting on a ruined wooden walkway in the distance and concentrated on the words of the Telekinesis spell.  She spoke the incantation effortlessly, and began to feel very proud of herself; thinking about how well she was doing, she lost her concentration on the spell. She faltered and repeated the same line twice; a searing pain went through her head and she saw flashing white lights. "It must succeed!" she thought to herself; and refocusing on the casting, she gritted her teeth and finished the spell.  Slowly, the rotting chest lifted off its perch and drifted towards her; going a few dozen yards and dropping to the snow.  (Pushed spell for -9 HP damage) Bailey let out a gasp and dropped to her knees, her head swimming, and sweat running down her back.
Quail Telekinetically moves one treasure towards her group (seen on the ground in the ruin on the left), as the rest of her command moves forward to retrieve it.  The second treasure can be seen on the gangway leading from the hill to the ruin. 

     Quail turned from watching the chest float along through the frosty air, to see her Apprentice drop.  As she did, a Bone Dart whizzed passed her cheek from the old watch tower.  She ducked instinctually, her suspicions about the new Wizard's Eye confirmed.  "Wizard's Eye on the tower!",  she shouted to her warband and pointed up to the top of the hill, as she ran over to Bailisette.
   "What did you do, you foolish girl!?" she said with mixed care and anger, as she grabbed the girl's head and peered into her eyes, searching for symptoms.  Her hands went down to the girl's neck to feel the pulse; weak.  Moving her hands to the Apprentice's shoulders, Quail closed her eyes, and began to whisper close to the Apprentice's ear the sing-song chant of a Healing spell.  Bailey could feel the healing tingle inside her, and she could feel the ache in her head subside and the ground beneath her stopped rocking back and forth.
   "Thank you, Ma'am ....I just wanted to show you I could do it." she said with a weak smile.
    Quail put her hands on her hips and eyed the young woman.  "I wouldn't have brought you if I didn't think you could do it, Bailisette." she said firmly yet with a touch of kindness. "Now, please be more careful."
    "Yes, Ma'am"
     While Quail was dealing with her Apprentice's mishap, the thief Innis Flin moved forward and grabbed the treasure Bailey had telekinetically moved.  As fast as possible he moved it back towards their rendezvous point.
Quail moves to Heal Bailey, as Sir Cardidil stands guard, and Innis Flin moves away with the second treasure. Other members of the party can be seen moving off to the right in the upper right corner of the photo.
      Meanwhile, on the flanks trouble was brewing.   Over on the left a wild boar appeared, picking its way through the ruins.  The crossbowman, Luc Demic, noticed it first; and he called to the thug, Clol, and the thief, Kinny, to go see about the treasure that the wizard had telekinetically moved earlier, while he took care of the boar.  He turned, planted his feet, and fired; but his shot missed.  The boar had caught his scent however, and charged.  There wasn't time for the crossbowman to draw his dagger, and  brandishing the crossbow like a club, he laid a solid blow aside the boar's head just as it was upon him.  The wild animal went sprawling across the rubble covered street, dead.  He breathed a sigh of relief and looked over to where Kinny was recovering the first treasure, and gave her and Clol a thumbs up.
Dorchesman fights the other Sigilist's Captain, as the Sigilist's warhound chews on the thief's cape.
      Over on the right, the thief Dorchesman ran towards a bridge over a frozen creek that had a promising bundle lying on it.  Before he could get there he could see that men from the other Sigilist's band were going to get there first.  Realizing he was outnumbered, Dorchesman stopped in his tracks and tipped his hat at the opposing soldiers.  Before he could turn and go though, the other group's Captain came charging across the bridge at him. "I meant no offense!" Dorchesman called out, but onward the Captain came. "So that's how its going to be" he thought to himself, and drawing his dagger he assumed a defensive stance.  As the Captain dove at him, sword raised high, the agile thief dodged and thrust upward with his dagger catching the Captain in his exposed side.  The Captain stumbled backwards, shocked; and Dorchesman took the opportunity to turn and run back towards his own warband.
    While this was going on, Quail was still keeping an eye on the watchtower.  She began to wonder if there might be a treasure up there within it's crumbling walls. She looked up into the dark opening, just barely visible in the fading light, and spoke the words of casting  Teleport. She was a bit rusty on that spell, and forgot a phrase near the end; giving herself a headache and failing to move herself anywhere. (Failed spell by 9, equals -1 HP damage) She looked over at Bailey, who she could tell was still a little shaken from earlier efforts, and asked, "Can you get up there?" as she pointed to the tower.
Bailey balances precariously on the crumbling wall of the ruined watch tower. Luckily, the limited light kept her from being a target for every wizard, archer, and crossbow on the table. 
     Bailey nodded, and began to chant the words of the Teleport spell herself, eager to once again have a chance to show her abilities.   She misjudged her landing point however, and materialized a few feet above the place she had wanted to land, coming down hard on top of the stone wall. Her ankle twisted, and she felt a stab of pain. (Pushed spell for -3 HP damage) Worse, she was off balance and began to feel herself falling forward off the wall, and grabbed desperately at the crumbling stone on each side of her.   After a few tense moments she regained her footing, and despite her throbbing ankle carefully dropped down into the shadows of the tower to look for treasure.
     As the Apprentice stumbled in the darkness of the ruined tower she found what she was looking for; there was an old chest over to one side, covered in debris.  The young Apprentice smiled.  The Maga Librarian would be so pleased.  As she worked to free the chest, a misstep and a stab of pain reminded her of her ankle injury.  She got the chest secured then sat down, and grabbing the injured joint she spoke the words of Healing.  As she spoke the words of the spell,  the moon passed completely in front of the sun, causing almost complete darkness to fall over the ruined city.  Bailey felt a tingling in her fingertips, and a surge of magical energy flowed through her like a shiver running down her spine.
   Back on the city streets below the tower, Sir Cardidil standing guard by her side, Quail felt the same sensation.  She was so overcome by the strange tingling up her fingers and down her spine that she misspoke the incantation of Fog she was attempting and nothing more than a fine mist appeared for a moment and then dissipated.  "Well that was odd," she said to herself, and studied her hands for a moment.
Quail places a wall of Fog in the air by the tower to block the Wizard Eye of the Soothsayer, Gru.  Meanwhile, in the lower left of the photos, Kinny carries off a treasure under the protection of Clol and Luc Demic.
    The Sigilist, however,  didn't have time to think about the strange magical surge for long, as she realized her Apprentice was taking too much time up in the tower.  Quail called to the thug, Barc, to go over and stand guard at the base of the tower,  as she looked up at the structure and saw another cursed Wizard's Eye appear on it and blink as it looked down at her.  She once again attempted casting Fog, successfully this time, to block it's view.  The eclipse was moving now past the sun and while it was getting a little lighter she could see that the sun was lowering in the west.  She surely didn't want to be trapped anywhere near the city when darkness fell.
    Quail turned and saw Kinny was busy carrying off the first treasure chest to their rendezvous point, and as she looked up at the hill and the tower once more,  she saw Bailisette materialize from a Teleport spell right on the edge of the cliff along the hillside.  What was even better was that the Apprentice was carrying a treasure chest.  "Three treasure for a first foray into the city wasn't too bad",  the Librarian thought to herself, "But I think it's time to call it a day."  With that, she gave the signal for the remaining members of her band to make their way to the rendezvous point.
     As they walked back out of the ruins, on the outskirts of the city, they came upon an old abandoned tower sitting tall on a little hill.   Despite it having been ransacked by treasure hunters long ago, there was something about its strong stone walls and arches that reminded Quail of the buildings on the campus of her university.   What's more, looking up at its highest floor, she was pretty sure she would be able to have a very good view of the ruined city from up there, perched as it was upon the small hill; and having a bird's eye view of the city might help her decipher the old magical maps in the Felstad atlas she had brought.
The old abandoned tower on the hill
     "Let us camp here for the night" she said to her party. "With a little fixing up, this tower might be a good base for us to operate from, rather than hiking all the way back to the village every time we venture into the ruins.   And so the group began clearing out the old tower under the supervision of Sir Cardidil, as Quailelyn and her Apprentice sat to inspect the treasure they had recovered.
   The three chests they brought back were found to contain a combined 220 gold coins, as well as a Grimoire of Awareness, and one of Planar Tear.  There was also an ancient tome called "The Book of Bones".  Quail ran her fingers over the cover of the Awareness grimoire; that would be a good spell to know she thought. But she didn't have the time right now to learn it.  As for the other Grimoire, she had little interest for the Summoning arts, but the grimoire might offer her something if she took the time to read it.  
     As far as the "Book of Bones" went, she had a great distain for the study of Necromancy so had little interest in that dusty tome.  She did however know, through her dealings at the university library,  a dealer in ancient magical texts that might be interested in such a book.   And,  he might be willing to trade it for what she really wanted: a crystal magical magnifying glass which would help her to better see and interpret the magical maps in the old Felstad atlas. (Sell "Book of Bones" for 250 GC, and buy Crystal Ball for 250 GC).
        As Quail pondered other uses for the gold they had obtained, she thought she might buy the equipment necessary to promote the thief Dorchesman to a full fledged Treasure Hunter (80 GC), and the thug Barc to a Man-at-Arms (80 GC) For now though, she needed to go help the rest of the group get the tower suitable to live in; and plan for their next expedition into the ruined city.

Epilogue:   It was a fun game!  It was very different experience playing with a 0 level warband again.  I ended up being very hesitant to get involved in any combat.   For a first outing I was very pleased however to get three treasures, and Quail and Bailey managed 9 spells between them.  Though I wished I had been able to cast one more to get to an even 100 Experience Points for spell casting.  As it was, I got 150 Experience Points for the 3 treasure, 50 for Quail being on the table during the eclipse, and the 90 for the spells; giving me 290 total.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Couple of Frostgrave Plastic Cultists

   At this past year's Fall-In convention I bought a box of the North Star Frostgrave Plastic Cultists, which I split with a friend; so I ended up with 10 of the figures. And, since our group is going to be starting our new Frostgrave Campaign next weekend and basing it off of the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" supplment book, I thought I should paint up a couple of the Cultists since they are one of the possible random encounters listed.
   The Cultist kit was typical of the other Frostgrave kits, with lots of interesting parts and accessories to choose from.  My only complaint is there seems to be an inordinate amount of skeletal parts to make undead warriors. I would have preferred more plain cultist options.
     I assembled two simple figures, and then glued them to 1" fender washers.  I then sprayed them with flat white spray primer.  When the primer was dry, I glued the figures to a tongue depressor for ease of holding during painting, and then I painted them and detailed the bases.

     I like how these figures turned out.   I think with the next ones I do I will try to move away from the all black outfits and try some different colors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My New Frostgrave Sigilist Warband

       As readers of this blog may know, our Frostgrave group is planning to start this year's new campaign this coming weekend.  So this past week I put the finishing touches on my new warband.  I decided to play a Sigilist wizard this time around. I didn't mess too much with the composition of the rest of the warband from what I did with my Illusionist last year; having a good fighter, a couple missile weapons, and a nice cadre of thieves and thugs for treasure recovery.
     For those who'd like to read a background story for my new wizard, see here: Frostgrave Prologue
The whole gang.

The Wizard, Quailelyn. The Apprentice, Bailisette. The Knight, Sir Cardidil

The Crossbowman, Luc Demic. The Archer, Sallisee.

The Thieves: Dorchesman, Kinny, and Innis Flin 

The Thugs: Clol, and Barc

Monday, January 9, 2017

Frostgrave North Star Plastic Soldier Female Conversion

      I needed a female human archer to complete my new Frostgrave warband, so thought I'd see if I could make one using the pieces from the North Star plastic Frostgrave soldiers set.  While I've heard it said that since the clothing on these figures is so bulky that any of them could be used as women, since the figure's shape wouldn't show through all the clothing layers anyway, I like it when figures that are supposed to be female actually look like a woman.   I didn't want to just sculpt breasts on one of the existing figures either, as that seldom turns out good.  So I thought about where I could find a female torso to use, and turned to either the Wargames Factory Amazon set, or Female Zombie set.  I didn't think the armor on the Amazons looked right for Frostgrave, so I selected one of the female zombie bodies from a spare sprue I had.
   I cut the the female zombie in half at the waist, and then cut one of the Frostgrave soldier bodies in half as well. I then glued the top of the zombie to the bottom of the Frostgrave soldier.  There is a significant size difference in the two waists, so my plan was to hide this shortfall with some of the many accessories that come with the Frostgrave Soldier set.  I added a head from the female zombie set, and then arms from the Frostgrave  Soldier set.  I needed to trim the upper arms a little as the shoulder areas on the female zombie torso are a bit smaller than the shoulder areas on the Frostgrave Soldier arms.   In the end, the bulky arms help hide the narrowness of the waist. I glued a backpack to her back, and a quiver on her front hip to aid in hiding the smaller waist.
   After the figure was assembled, I glued it to a 1" fender washer, and then spray primed it with flat white.  I then painted it.

     I'm really happy with how the end result turned out.  I think it makes for a pretty good looking female character, and will fit nicely in with my other Frostgrave figures.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

HAWKs' New Year's Eve Game-aganza!

      It has become the tradition with the HAWK's that every New Year's Eve Buck Surdu and his wife, Candy, host a gaming get-together to ring in the New Year.  This year was no exception; with a fun filled event full of good food, good friends, and good gaming.
    We started off in the afternoon with a Dr Who Christmas-themed game that I ran using GASLIGHT rules, called "The 12 Doctors of Christmas".    The scenario was that Santa had mysteriously disappeared and the allied forces of evil (Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and Weeping Angels) were taking the opportunity to overthrow the North Pole.   Rallying against them were various North Pole Defenders. There were also seven incarnations of the Doctor, each with a single companion, (We didn't have enough players for all 12 Doctors) there to help solve the mystery of where Santa had gone.  Once they found Santa (assuming they did), they needed to get him aboard the TARDIS with one of the Doctors and fly him to safety.
The puzzle I made up for the Doctor Who game.
     While the battle between the North Pole Defenders and  the Allied Evil Forces was pretty straight forward, I decided to incorporate a puzzle for the Doctors to solve during the game.  To do this I borrowed an idea that my friend Sam Fuson uses to good effect in his GASLIGHT Sherlock Holmes games: I bought a cheap 24 piece puzzle at the local Dollar Tree store, and wrote the location of Santa on the back of the center 8 pieces of the puzzle.  (See photo above)  I then mixed up these pieces and put them in a brown paper bag.  Then, when I was setting up the terrain, I scattered 10 small present tokens on the table to represent "clues".  During the game, each time one of the Doctors spent a turn adjacent to one of these present "clues" he was able to "decipher the clue" by pulling a random puzzle piece from the bag.  Only the Doctors were able to decipher these clues, though other figures could bring the clues to any Doctor to decipher.  Likewise, the bad guys couldn't destroy clues, but they could pick them up and hold them, thus denying them to the other side.
A look at the table near the start of the 12 Doctors of Christmas game.  The good guys entered from the left, and the bad guys entered on the right.
      To make things more difficult for the Doctors, I had 3 different colored spheres on the table (Christmas Ornaments turned into terrain) , so just the "SPHERE" puzzle piece wouldn't give the answer away immediately. And I had several red objects on the table, so jus the "RED" card wouldn't give the answer away to early either. 
Some Weeping Angels guard a present token "clue" in one of the train cars.
     In the end, it worked out perfectly, as the Doctors recovered present tokens, and then drew the cards in this order: "IN", "TRAPPED", "RED", "SPHERE".  Also, they drew the last card just as the battle was reaching its peak, and swirling around the very red sphere where Santa was hidden.
The 11th Doctor checks out a "clue" as the snow monster from Frozen, and the Bumble fight in a melee nearby.  Sontarans line the fence, and are being pelted by snowball-throwing kids, and magical snowmen with peppermint-stick guns. 
With the forces of evil closing it, it was Elsa (Yes, that Elsa, from Frozen!) who was able to shoot an icy bolt which shattered the sphere and freed Santa, just as the North Pole Defenders were collapsing.  On the next Doctor card,  the TARDIS was summoned, and Santa was able to get on board.  
Toy Soldiers attempt to hold back a unit of Cybermen and some Daleks. Note the red sphere where Santa is trapped.
     In the final two turns however, the forces of Evil were able to tighten their noose, and no Doctor was able to make it to the TARDIS to fly Santa to safety.  With no hope of the Doctors succeeding, I called the game and declared it a marginal Evil side victory.
As the clues come together, the forces from both sides begin to converge on the sphere.
    The game turned out to be a real nail-biter, going right down to the final turns as the remaining Doctors tried desperately, and failed, to get to the TARDIS.  It was a lot of fun for the players as well as me in the roll of GM.
     After the game, we packed it up, and then took a break for a yummy beef stew dinner.   
At last Santa is freed, but it may be too late!
     We reconvened after dinner for a WWII game using "Combat Patrol" rules, which Buck Surdu GMed.   The scenario had American glider troops trying to grab a German held bridge that ran over a river.
    I commanded a German reinforcement squad that entered from the table edge on turn 2.
The game began with fierce melee on the far side of the bridge.
      I decided to enter mounted on a halftrack that was commanded by another player.  This unfortunately resulted in my squad having to disembark in two different locations, and becoming split up.  I then thought the halftrack was going to give me fire support with it's MG, but instead it pulled out right as I was preparing to attack an enemy unit.  I was caught between a rock and a hard place and ended up getting my two fireteams shredded.  
The halftrack driver fails a morale check and ends up driving the vehicle up onto the bridge.  It is quickly overrun with American's and is eventually captured after a spirited defense by the crew. 
     Unfortunately, my fellow defenders were faring no better than I, and the American superior firepower was able to quickly overcome our defenses.    With the collapse of our ability to hold the objective, the game was declared an American victory.  Despite our dismal performance the game was still a lot of fun!
The Americana's prepare for the final push across the river.
      It was now getting close to midnight, so we decided to set up a quick X-Wing game to fill the remaining time.  I was exhausted at this point so opted to sit this one out and just chatted with the other guests.
The X-wing game that lasted two years; starting in 2016, and ending in 2017. :) 
  At midnight  everyone came and watched the ball drop, and toasted the New Year with some champagne.  The diehards then went on to complete the X-Wing game, as the rest of us sat around and talked about the year behind us and the one ahead.
The gang toasts the New Year.
     It was a great evening and is truly one of the high points of the Holiday season.  A big thanks goes out to the Surdu family for once again hosting an excellent evening of fun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Frostgrave Campaign Prologue: The Tale of the Wizard Quailelyn

           As readers of this blog will know, we recently finished up an 11-month Frostgrave Campaign that we began earlier this year.  We will be starting a new campaign in January, and  I have decided to run a Sigilist warband this time.  I thought I would write a short tale to introduce my new wizard and her Apprentice.

     The main library of the Percensua University of Wizardly Studies, located in the capitol of Valindhoa, was an old and cavernous stone building near the center of the ancient school's campus.  One of the first built on the land donated by the king some 800 years ago, it had developed it's share of drafts, groaning hinges, and uneven floors. The young students hated the place, calling it "The Tomb" for it's dark, damp and ancient nature.  To Maga Librarian Quailelyn, it was home.

      Short, with greying pale brown hair and sea green eyes, Quailelyn had come to the campus as a young student some 30 years ago.  Unlike her classmates though, she had fallen in love with "The Tomb"; its shelf upon shelf of endless books, manuscripts and scrolls...the small of the parchment and lamp oil...and its' many little nooks and hidden spots.   For Quail loved all things written.  Words to her, no matter printed or scribed by hand, ancient rune or modern text, they held everything she could want or hope for.  The keys to distant lands, the sparks of new ideas, adventure, and knowledge.  But she had also found they contained power.  The use of words, both written and spoken, to produce magical spells, had become her forte and her passion. She excelled in her Sigilisim classes, and her professors saw her for the shining star she was. A shy girl by nature, she threw herself at her studies, and secluded herself into the Tomb.

     The years passed; she graduated with honors, and before she had the opportunity to step out into the world,  Quail was hired by the librarians who had become both her only friends, and her surrogate family. As a Junior Librarian she got to stay at the university to work and live amongst the books she loved.
     Now, 30 years since she fist set foot on the campus, Quailelyn, Maga Librarian, sat at her large cluttered desk, and stared out the grungy window to her left.  It was snowing outside. Winter had come  early to Valindhoa that year and the Tomb was cold throughout, despite the magical fires torches, and lamps that burned here and there throughout the cavernous building.  But Quail had lived there long enough that the cold didn't bother her much.

      What bothered her at that moment was a sadness and a longing which had become more noticeable in recent weeks.  It now had an intensity that she could no longer dismiss.  She felt a loss, a hole within her, and she wasn't sure why.  More and more she found herself staring out the large windows of the Tomb at the world outside.  Then, as the days passed, she realized she was missing the world; she puzzled at the new longing she felt to walk among trees, and see new sights.  To hear birds sing, and to feel the wind on her face. It was if something was calling her from afar.  Quail stood from her desk suddenly, and, as fast as her dignity would take her,  she made her way towards the large oaken doors of the Tomb.   She leaned into one of them, and pushed. As it was late in the Winter now, an icy blast hit her squarely in the face. Quail smiled at the long-forgotten sensation.  She slowly made her way down the steps, taking it all in and walked into the campus yard.  The Maga Librarian turned her face to the sky and felt the sting of the flakes falling.  She began to turn in place where she stood, taking it all in.  Faster she turned, her senses overloading, until the dizziness over took her an she collapsed into the snow, smiling.  Yes, words held great power, but they escaped her now.  Reality had a magnificent power all its own.
      "Um, Ma'am?" a squeaky voice said.
       The Maga Librarian, tilted her head down and propped herself up on her elbows to look toward her feet, wet strands of greying hair sticking to her face; and there she saw the young Apprentice Librarian, Bailisette, standing, shivering, a short distance away, arms folded and clutched close to her body looking through her small round glasses at Quail with concern on her face.
     "Oh, Bailisette," Quailelyn said as she quickly got up and dusted the snow from her clothes. "I am all right."  Quail laughed to herself thinking about what kind of sight she must be presenting to the young girl, and what Bailisette must think.
     "I was just suddenly overcome with the need for some..uh..., fresh air." the Maga Librbarian said haltingly, her cheeks turning a bit red, and not just from the cold.  "Here, let us go back in."
    Later that evening as Quail sat working on book invoices, and Bailisette sat across from her transcribing scrolls, the Maga Librarian looked up at the girl and said, "Bailey, do you ever feel alone and isolated working here in the Tomb?  Do you ever long for a life outside these walls?"
      Bailisette, looked up a bit confused. "No, Ma'am. I love my job here at the Library. It's like a second home to me."

      Quailelyn smiled at the girl.  She could see her younger self in the girl's eagerness and devotion to the Library.   Bailey had been an excellent student just like she had, Quail knew.  And she had developed a bit of a rapport with the girl in the year since she had come to work at the Library.  Quailelyn found the girl was easier to talk to than most of the other Apprentice Librarians.  But, she now realized what a solitary trap the Tomb could become for a young life, and wanted to save the girl from it if she could.   "I've been thinking about taking a leave from the Library for a year and doing some traveling." Quailelyn said off handedly with one eye on the girl.
     Bailisette looked up shocked. "Ma'am!"
     The Maga Librarian continued.  "It would do me good to get out and see a bit of the world and the people in it. But..." She now looked squarely at the young Apprentice, "I could use an assistant and traveling companion to help me on my trip. " She paused.  "Would you be interested?"
   The young Apprentice's jaw opened reflexively and hung there.  She was momentarily speechless; capable only of taking the index finger of her left hand and pushing her glasses more snugly up her nose.
     Bailey closed her mouth and thought for a moment.  "I...I would be honored, Ma'am?" she said, more as question than a statement of fact.


     Quailelyn came back with a large ancient map, and Bailey carefully pushed aside the work they had been doing, as the Maga Librarian spread the map across the desk's surface.
   "Now, where should we go?" Quail said, a bit giddy already at the prospect of her journey.
    The two women studied the map.
    The Maga Librarian slid her finger across the old parchment as the Apprentice stared wide-eyed.  She was still a bit confused and bewildered at the events that had happened all so suddenly; finding herself in a blink of the eye to be the invited traveling companion of the Maga Librarian.
 "Insurikar?" Quailelyn mused to her self. "No, too hot and dusty, " she said in answer to her own question.
Her finger continued to trace lines across the old map. "Lornne? Perhaps too far. Krakeden?  Too barbaric.  Felstad..." Her finger paused.  A little quiver went up her finger, her hand, her arm.
     Were the stories true, she wondered to herself.  The legends?  The once great magical capital of the world?  Think of the lost libraries that might be there...
     Quail looked up at the young Apprentice, "Have you heard the stories of Felstad?"
     "Why, yes, Ma'am. In our history studies. Those who have travelled there in recent years have come to call it 'Frostgrave' I believe."
      Quailelyn's figure tapped on the map over the large black dot with the carefully scribed, FELSTADnext to it.  At some point in later years, a long forgotten hand had attempted to update the map, after Felstad had been lost in an icy cataclysm, by crossing out the city's name with a thick  black line   Quail's mind began to calculate, tabulate. A trip to the frozen city of legend could not be undertaken on a whim.  They would need to plan.


A month later, in a wagon loaded with supplies and equipment, the two women passed through the gate of the university. It was a warm Spring day, and Quail's heart pounded with the thrill to be finally off on their journey.  Bailey sat next to her, quiet, in a confused state of panic and excitement. Alongside the wagon rode a new addition to their party: Sir Cardidil, a knight in the service of the university's guard, who had agreed to go along with the pair and act as an escort on the long trip. There were many miles before them, but they all looked forward to the adventure and opportunities that awaited at their destination.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Frostgrave Campaign: Game 11

         This past Saturday we got together for our 11th and final game of our current Frostgrave campaign.  We only had 6 of our regular 8 players, so decided to use just an 8' table.   For the past month we all had been busily building bookshelves for this game as we were doing the Library scenario from the core rulebook.   Also, because it was December, each player brought 3 wrapped Christmas gifts ($1-$5 each) to correspond with their treasure tokens.  For each treasure token a player got at game's end, they got to select a gift from the pile.
   For the library itself, we used almost all Dwarven Forge sets, with the addition of David's beautiful Temple as the central piece. We also had the first three random beasts to show up selected as classic geek Library creatures: a Wraith Librarian (Ghostbusters), and two swarms of Vashta Nerada (Dr Who).
For the report on the previous game, see: Game 10
A view of the table before the game starts, with 8' of Library!  Note the enticing pile of presents at the far end. :)
     We chose our starting spots by drawing numbered chips this time, and then in that order we selecting the doors from which we would mark our start positions. Kodak ended up in a central spot, with the Elementalist Elsa on his left, the Chronomancer called the Doctor across from him, and the Sigilist to his right.
     The old Elf Illusionist and his band made their way down a twisted tunnel that he had heard led to a long forgotten library.  He could tell they were descending deep into the ground.  They came up before a rotted old door, and before they broke through it, Kodak took the opportunity to divide up his group as best he could in the cramped tunnel.  With him he would take Linesse and Hanwell, the Treasure Hunter's; and Danlin, the Marksman.  He assigned to his Apprentice, Leighlyndana: Cadwalleter, the Thief;  Connisyn, the Treasure Hunter; and  Bash, the Man-at-Arms.  The Rangers, Edel and Weiss; the Templar Sister Zandkara, and the War-Hound, Odullorf were left to their own initiative.  Kodak was hoping to move in quickly, grab any treasure to be found, and get out.  He just didn't feel up to an extended fight this day with any other wizard groups that might also be exploring this library.  Both he and Leigh tried to cast an Illusionary Soldier, but neither had success.
Kodak and his crew prepare to enter the Library.
     The old door was rotted enough that a couple blow from Kodak's staff reduced it to firewood, and the warband began to press through the narrow opening. They were immediately faced with a "T" intersection, and Kodak and is group moved off to the left; while Leigh and her command moved off to the right.
   There was an opening at the end of the hall Kodak had turned into,  and the old Illusionist moved through it, followed by his three companions.   They emerged into a large cavernous room. There was a curved stairway to Kodak's left, which lead nowhere but up to the ceiling; Kodak thought he could see something of interest at the top of the stairs, so he motioned to Linesse to head up there to check it out.  Before him was an expansive book case stretching almost the entire length of the room.  The wizard motioned to Hanwell to move off to the right and check another bookcase on the right wall.  Kodak's Elven senses could detect a slight draft coming from that wall on the right, which made him think there may be a secret passage behind the bookcase that was there.
The Doctor and his party emerge from a strange blue box!
     As he was contemplating his next move, his ears picked up the sounds of voices from across the cavernous room, and he thought he could make out the high-pitched voice of the Elementalist, Elsa, and, from the sound of it, a large number of her party.  Quickly, he motioned to Danlin to move up and take a position of cover at the left corner of the large book case before them. Kodak was certain there was more of value in the room, but he didn't feel confident he could take on another wizard and practically their whole party with just three of his warband.  Hopefully Linesse could extract her treasure and Hanwell could sneak into the hidden passage before the opposing party got too far into the room.  To help with this, Kodak cast Invisibility on Hanwell before the Treasure Hunter set off on his mission.
Kodak enters a large room with Linesse and Hanwell.  In the distance Elsa and her group can be seen heading their way.
     Meanwhile, Leighlyndana and her group had entered a strange room with a pentagram in the center. Upon the strange star carved into the floor stood a cauldron, still bubbling and emitting steam after all these centuries, and atop the plum of steam was a fully formed head, which glared at the Apprentice as she entered the room, it's gaze following her everywhere she went.  There was a treasure off to her left which she directed Cadwalleter to retrieve. To her right was a large staircase leading up to a large raised section of the library, with mighty arches and ornate carvings. she directed Connisyn and Bash to check out what may be up in that raised section.
  Almost immediately, Leigh saw the Doctor's Treasure Hunter enter the next room over.  She attempted to cast Mind Control on him, but the link she generated was too weak, and the enemy soldier easily ignored the commands he heard being whispered inside his head.  Then, before Leigh could react, the Doctor's Apprentice, River Song, entered the room as well; and pulling a strange metallic device from a holster on her hip, River fired a blast of light (Elemental Bolt),at Kodak's Apprentice, hitting her in the side as she tried to duck out of sight.  Leigh winced in pain as a searing burn radiated up and down her left torso (-11 HP).
        Through gritted teeth, Leigh called for Edel and Weiss to come forward and back her up.  The duo fired their arrows into the far room, but  they were unable to hit anything.
Leighlyndana, on the right, faces off against the Doctor's Apprentice, River Song (in the far room); as Cadwalleter, on the left, recovers a treasure. Meanwhile, the floating head on the pentagram keeps it's eyes fixed on Leigh.
          Meanwhile, back in the other room, Danlin was able to get a good shot off at the Elementalist's Crossbowman, badly wounding him. Kodak moved up beside him.  Seeing Elsa's Treasure Hunter pulling something of value from a crevice in the floor, the Elf Illusionist, attempted Mind Control as well; but like his Apprentice, Kodak's attempt was too weak to influence the actions of the target.
    As he was concentrating on the spell, the Illusionist was oblivious to the groans that began to emanated from behind a bookcase off to his left, and it wasn't until Danlin turned and noticed the beast in time to shout out a warning, that Kodak was aware of a Ghoul which had appeared from out of the shadows and shambled towards him.  The foul creature was upon the wizard before he had time to fully prepare, but his instincts kicked in; and one mighty blow from his staff crushed the skull of the undead horror.
An overview of the action in Kodak's sector.
     As Kodak was busy on one side of the large room, over on the far side Hanwell, invisible, had made his way into the secret passage, only to come face to face with another of the Doctor's Treasure Hunters who was picking up a treasure which lay in the hall.  The contact with enemy broke the Invisibility spell as the two opponents swung their swords at each other.  Sister Zandkara had entered the room and she raced to help her compatriot, but Hanwell was at a disadvantage with his back up against the half-open secret door, and he quickly fell to his enemy's blade.   The Templar arrived moments too late,  and was set upon by Elsa, who was also heading for the secret passage.  Despite her diminutive size and young years, the Elementalist was able to better the Templar, and a single blow sent her sprawling on the floor.
Kodak is set upon by a ghoul!
     Back in the raised portion of the library,  Connisyn and Bash had been joined by Odullorf the Warhound.  They were experiencing a good deal of frustration as the Sigilist's Apprentice was using Telekinesis to remove the two treasures that had been located there.  One of those had flown out the far end of the large room, but they could see the second one being picked up by one of the Sigilist's strange duck-man minions, who then made it's way down a staircase off to the right.  Connisyn whistled to Odullorf, and the pair went racing after the enemy soldier.
A view of the game in progress.
     The Sigilist Apprentice wasn't going to let the treasure be taken without a fight, and she tossed a sphere of energy (Elemental Ball) at Connysin and Odullorf as they made their way down the steps. Luckily the sphere burst harmlessly above their heads, and they continued to pursue their quarry.
The Sigilist's Apprentice's Elemental Ball explodes harmlessly above the heads of Connisyn and Odullorf.
     Meanwhile, back in the pentagram room, Leigh had cautiously moved back out from her hiding spot, to find that the room across the way had cleared out.  She wasn't sure where all the Doctor's soldiers had gone, but she was happy to see she wasn't going to be shot again any time soon by the infernal weapon of the Doctor's Apprentice.  She was also happy to see far across the room the Doctor's Treasure Hunter dragging away a heavy load.   Once again, she tried her Mind Control spell, and this time it took; She could feel her thoughts penetrate into the mind of the enemy, and slowly she turned his purpose to hers.
Leigh Mind Controls the Doctor's Treasure Hunter, right before he turns the corner and passes out of view.
       Connisyn and Odullorf were having success of their own as well.   They set upon the Sigilist's soldier, and easily bested him. Bash, moved to block any pursuit by other members of the Sigilist's party. Then before he realized what was happening, the Siglisit's Apprentice picked up a small piece of broken masonry, and after waving her other hand over it a few times, she tossed it over the side, down into the lower stairwell (Grenade).  Bash called out a warning, as the piece of stone hit the side wall right above Odullorf and exploded.  A large chunk of the stonework fell off the side of the staircase, hitting the dog and knocking him out.  Connisyn luckily, once again, was unscathed.  She picked up the Treasure and made her way towards a nearby door.
Connisyn and Odullorf battle the Sigilist's Duck-man, as Bash stands guard.
        Leighlyndana thought she had a treasure near her grasp as well, as the Doctor's Treasure Hunter under her control slowly made his way towards her.   Then suddenly the Doctor's Knight raced into the room and interposed himself between Leigh and the Treasure Hunter.  Leigh knew the only way to insure getting the treasure was to occupy the Knight; and momentarily forgetting the wound in her side, she raced forward to fight the Knight, allowing the Treasure Hunter to safely make his way across the room.  However, she was in no condition to take on a full-strength Knight, and one good armored fist to her jaw sent her spinning across the room where she collapsed upon a musty old rug. The Knight was then able to fall upon the Mind Controlled member of his own party.
Leigh is taken down by the Doctor's Knight, in an ill-considered charge to try and keep the soldier occupied.  (Ghostbusters fans will note the inhumanly stacked pile of books in the center of the room.)  
     Shortly after Leigh fell, Kodak could see there was little to be gained by pressing forward, so he sounded the recall.  One by one, his party members made their way out of the underground labyrinth and headed back to the Inn.
Elsewhere in the library;  the Wraith Librarian checks the book indexing (Near the center foreground), while the Vashta Nerada chase some of Knabe's men (The shadow on the floor near the center of the photo)
     Back at the Inn, Kodak sat at his usual table and looked at the three treasures they had recovered.  He knew he should be elated; they had recovered three treasures, no one had died, and having leafed through a few of the books he had found had given him all sort of new insights. (Absorb Knowledge successfully cast post-game) However, he couldn't help but feel a loss of something.  While those around him were in high spirits; laughing, drinking, and relating tales from the days adventures, Kodak sat and reflected.
A contemplative Kodak studies some of the book titles during a lull in the action.
    Leigh noticed him sitting there apart from the rest, and went over to his table and sat next to him, setting her mug of ale on the table before her. "You're very quite tonight, Master Kodak", she ventured.
   The old Elf looked up at her, and gave a half smile. "Seeing all those books today brought back some memories." He said. "I have quite an extensive library myself back in my home in Cercenia, and today I was reminded of that." He said the word again, "Home."
  He placed both hands on the table and looked at them, contemplatively.  "I've been here for almost a year now. I've learned much......seen much", he paused, "......and lost much." He looked up at Leigh and gazed into her pale blue eyes.  So full of youth and life.  "I think it is time for this old man to return to his home.
   "Oh, no, master!" Leigh protested. Kodak smiled at her, a sad tired smile. He knew she would react this way.
   "No, Leigh, my mind is made up".  He leaned forward and reached out a hand to take one of hers.  He held it firmly.  "You have a bright future, Leighlyndana.  You are intelligent, and skilled. More so than I think you realize yet. " He released her hand and sat back.  "I will help you any way I can, once you decide where you will head from here."
   Tears now shown in the young half-elf's eyes. She knew there was no turning Master Kodak's mind once it was made up. She would miss him truly.
     He stood now. "I will tell the others tomorrow." He gazed around the room. "They're a good group of companions, you know..." His eyes turned back to Leigh, "...If you should want to continue here on your own. They trust and respect you."
     Leigh contemplated this.  Kodak gave her a slight bow of the head, then turned and headed towards his room.  The young woman watched as he slowly faded into the darkness of the hall. She could hear him open the latch of his door, and then he was gone.

     Epilogue:  Wow, what a fun campaign!  For the record books Kodak came in second behind his nemisis, Knabe, with 3200 Experience Points after this last game.  Of the crew that started with Kodak those distant 11 months ago, Bash, Edel, Weiss, Linesse, and Cadwalleter remain. And I would be remiss without a last mention of those memorable souls who were lost in the frozen city: Cherowyn, Kodak's first Apprentice;  Sister Elessa, his old and dear friend; and her twin sister Riessa, who Kodak came to depend on and befriend.
I am very sad at having to leave this brave band of adventurers behind; consoled only by the prospect of getting to know a whole new group of interesting explorers in the months to come.

Elsa the Elementalist's report can be found here: Silence in the Library
Knabe's report can be found here: The Finale

After the game, the real "treasures" are claimed!
     I want to thank all my readers who followed along and enjoyed reading about Kodak and his forays into the frozen ruins of Frostgrave.  Your comments and support were greatly appreciated!  Be sure to tune in next month to meet a new wizard and warband. :)