For The Keep we made a few changes to suit our number of players and our preferences. Each player provided one Teleport Pad and one treasure to put on it. We also added an eighth pad that had no treasure, and then numbered the pads 1 to 8. Whenever anyone stepped on a pad, we rolled a d8, and that told the player which pad they ended up on. We also allowed the pads to be set up on and in structures. Another rule we used was that the pads were null fields (Like the Silent Tower), which prevented wizards with Telekinesis and Teleportation from getting an upper hand.
For our Invasion of the Frost Giants scenario we assembled 14 Frost Giant models, and then numbered each 1 to 14. We then had my wife make a list that none of us saw, numbered 1 -14, with seven of the numbers marked "Yes", and seven marked "No". This list was sealed in an envelope and saved for the end of the game. The purpose of this was that only 7 of the Giants were carrying real treasure, and the other 7 were carrying worthless objects. When a player killed a giant, he took a turn to loot the body, and got a treasure token numbered the same as the Giant he killed, but the player didn't now whether he had a box of gold coins or worthless tin flatware (and there was no time to check in the heat of battle). Players also got experience points for their warband killing a giant based on their wizard's level: Wizards level 1-10 got 100 XP, wizards 11-20 got 50 XP, and wizards 20+ got 25 XP
We took turns placing the Teleport Pads, then the Giants, using the standard treasure placement rules. Then each player placed one piece of normal treasure in the ruins. We then let the player with the lowest level wizard pick which corner of the table they wanted to start from, and worked our way seating players down the table by ranking of wizard, ending with the highest level wizard at the far end of the table from the lowest.
For a report on the previous game, please see: Game 7
|A view of the table at the start of the game. Kodak and his party entered along the edge near the bottom center of the photo.|
|Kodak's warband as they prepare to enter the city.|
Quietly and precisely, the group advanced. Kodak rushed passed the Giant, and from just a few yards away attempted a Mind Control spell. Despite the Illusionist successfully casting the spell, the Giant merely looked up and waved his hand around his head as if annoyed by flies. Meanwhile, Danlin had moved to a position of cover beside a ruined hut, and seeing the Wizard's spell fail to have an effect, let loose with a crossbow bolt. The Giant moved at just that moment, and the bolt clanged against the bronze statue behind the large creature, as it ricocheted away in a harmless direction. Kodak quickly turned to see Weiss, who had also taken up position in another ruin, pull back her powerful bowstring and let fly a deadly arrow. It stuck harmlessly in the Giant's shield. Things were looking dire now; but Sister Riessa stood at the ready and charged at the Giant, her magic sword, Elessa, raised high.
|A perfect plan goes horribly wrong. As Kodak's Mind Control attempt fails, and both Danlin and Weiss miss, the job of subduing the Giant falls to Riessa.|
Mellily now faced the Giant alone.
|The death of Riessa. Kodak disappears and suddenly Mellily feels very alone.|
|Kodak lands on an old Viaduct.|
As Leigh was scanning the nearby ruins, her eye was caught by movement, and she saw one of the Druid Knabe's Dwarves entering a two story tower a few hundred yards away. Sensing that he must be going after a treasure. She began to chant the words of the Teleportation spell in the proper cadence that Kodak had taught her, and in a blink with a spinning of the head and turning of the stomach she stood in the doorway of the tower facing the Druid's Owlmaster, who was indeed holding a small treasure chest. The old Owlmaster called out in fright, and almost immediately, the Druid's Snow Leopard was propelled by a Leap spell up into the roofless tower and landed gracefully to the Illusionist Apprentice's right. No stranger to the occasional outnumbered street fight in her past life, Leighlyndana smiled to herself as she gripped her staff and prepared to strike. With a swift blow she struck at the Owlmaster; but she had little experience fighting Dwarves, and he was able to duck out of the way of her staff. The Leopard then pounced, but Leigh was prepared for that and caught the big cat with a strong upward blow that sent it flying into the wall of the tower where it slid to the floor and lay motionless. (Leigh rolled a 20 + Fight 3) The Owlmaster charged at her too, but Leigh was able to use the momentum of her backswing to bring her staff around and catch the Dwarf upside his large head. The Dwarf staggered as blood flowed from a large head wound. Quickly the Apprentice swung again before the Druid's man could regain his footing, and brought him down. He lay on the ground motionless next to the Leopard.
|Leighlyndana takes on all comers. The Leopard is down and out, and the Apprentice delivers the final blow to the Owlmaster, as Bobo the bear comes flying over the wall.|
Leigh caught her breath and leaned on her staff, but got no rest as suddenly a shadow filled the door. She looked up to see the Druid's Treasure Hunter, who had just climbed up the tower, enter the room. With a deep breath she stepped forward and prepared to strike, but the Treasure Hunter was able to deflect the blow and sliced at the Apprentice with his dagger, cutting clean across her gut. Bleeding, Leigh staggered backward, but almost immediately the Dwarf was upon her again, and with a quick backward slice with his sword caught her on the side of the head with the hilt. Leighlyndana felt the room spin, and her legs go out from under her; and as the room went black, she dropped to join the rest of the bodies on the floor.
|Connisyn retrieves a treasure from atop the old tower.|
The sun was fading now, and the Illusionist and his band knew it was time to start heading back to the Inn. Each member of the party slowly began to make their way out of the city. On the trip back Kodak was very quiet, and those members of the group who walked near him could have sworn there was a shadow cast on him that had no source.
The old Illusionist reached the Inn to find Mellily Ising was already there, standing in the doorway looking at him expressionless. He could not meet her gaze, as inside he was a cauldron of mixed roiling emotions. He was ashamed for having run off the way he did, and horrified and crushed at Riessa's death. Not only that, but he was frantic with worry as on the trip back he had heard from the others that Leighlyndana had teleported herself away and had not been seen or heard from again. Her dog, Kinddriff had been killed by one of the Druid's men as well. What could have happened to his Apprentice? If he lost both of them today....
Perhaps, he thought, he was not cut out for this life of magical pursuit in the frozen city. It was a harsh cruel life; and were the rewards, both financial and magical, worth the sacrifice. He bowed his head and pushed by the young Treasure Hunter and went into the Inn.
Once inside, he looked up and let his eyes adjust to the dim candlelight. He stepped forward then stopped suddenly as if he had walked into a wall, as there on one of the tables he saw Riessa's blood-soaked cloak laying in an apparent heap. There was also an old well-worn leather bag on the table. He turned and looked puzzled at Mellily, who in turn pushed past the old Elf and strode to the table. He followed her part way, as the rest of the warband piled into the Inn's great room behind Kodak, but not daring to go past him. Mellily upended the leather bag and 40 gold coins spilled out on the table. Then she reached for the cloak and pulled back the top folds revealing the Templar's magic two-handed sword. Kodak was drawn to it, and walked to the table, where he peered down at the blade, black in spots from Riessa's own dried blood. The others stared silently as he instinctively reached out to touch it. As his forefinger made contact with the metal he flinched as if shocked and withdraw his hand. "It's different." he said in a hushed whisper, "the sword Elessa has changed". He reached out again, this time gripping the sword by the hilt purposefully and raised it up. He closed his eyes and held the sword close as if listening to it. He had heard tales of magic swords changing their nature under extreme circumstances, such as being forced to harm their true owners, but this was the first he had ever felt it himself.
"It has become vengeful." he said solemnly. "While before it was imbued with the spirit and power of it's namesake, Elessa, to bring The Light to the city (+1 Fight); it has changed now, and seeks to revenge both their deaths. " The old Elf added in a hushed tone, "It wishes to do harm." (+1 damage)
He set the sword back on the table and re-covered it with Riessa's cloak. Pausing a moment to look at the bloodstains and collect his thoughts, he then turned to face his warband and began to say, "It has been a long day...". Then, suddenly, there was movement at the door of the inn, and Leighlyndana, stumbled in and fell on the floor with a groan and lay in a pool of candlelight. She was as white as a ghost, but still among the living. Kodak could not believe it, and rushed forward to kneel by the young elf. He pressed a hand to her forehead and breathed a sigh of relief as he sensed that, though badly injured, she would recover. To himself, he thought, "It wasn't both of them. I didn't lose both."
Epilogue: Leignlyndana recovered quickly. Kodak waited until she was strong again to tell her about Riessa and Kinddriff, and the Apprentice took both losses hard. There were many days she spent alone in her room staring out the window. Kodak did not know what she was thinking about on the days of solitude, and he had the decency not to use any magic to find out. Treasure-wise it had been a good trip, with 4 treasures recovered. Though in his heart he knew no amount of gold could replace Riessa, the warband had recovered 460 GC; plus a Staff of Casting:Awareness, (which was a useless magic toy in Kodak's opinion), that Kodak had sold for 300 GC. That gave him a total of 760 GC to put in the vault. There had also been a Grimoire of Bone Dart, which the old Illusionist started studying immediately. The Sword of the Sisters, as he had started to call the transformed sword, was in the vault. He wasn't sure yet what to do with it. He and his Apprentice had only managed 6 spells, but he had learned a fair amount on his trip through the Teleport system (50XP), and he had been able to quickly study the teleport's control features before he stepped off the one he had landed on, giving him extra insight on it's workings (End-of-Game cast Absorb Knowledge successfully for 50 XP)
Author's Note: I am aware of the rule that any magic items that are carried by a character that is killed are lost. And so I assumed was the fate of the magic sword Elessa; until, by chance, while rolling for treasure after the game I got a magic weapon/armor result (Roll of 9: 40 GC and Magic weapon/armor roll) . I then went to the magic weapon/armor table and rolled; and was surprised as could be when I rolled a 5: two-handed weapon +1 dam. I knew it had to be fate that I rolled almost the exact weapon I had lost, with a slight exception: I rolled a +1 Damage 2-handed weapon, where as Elessa had been a +1 Fight 2-handed weapon. Almost immediately my imagination kicked in and I started weaving the narrative of how the sword had come to change. So, technically in terms of the game, the sword was left behind, and was replaced by the one I rolled for on the treasure table, but from a narrative sense I made it the same sword.
It has to be one of the most exciting and memorable games I've played in. From Riessa's death on turn 1, to Leighlyndana's fighting and dispatching 3 of the Druid's warband in a multi-turn slugfest before being taken out herself, to the unpredictability of the Teleport Pads, and soldiers from different warbands ending up all over the table; it was a real nail-biter through and through. It was also one of the most frustrating games as we all soon realized that there was hardly any treasure to be had easily, and riding the Teleport Pad system turned out to be the best way to get treasure...if you could survive it.