(To read an account of last month's game, see: Storm of Undeath)
Like last year, for the library itself we used almost all Dwarven Forge sets, with the addition of a beautiful Temple, built by David Brawley, 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).
We also decided to try and interweave the scenario into the Thaw of the Lich Lord story line by incorporating elements from the Thaw of the Lich Lord's Battle on the River scenario. So, at the start of the game we placed in the Library a Mage servant of the Lich Lord for every two players (So for us there were 5). The Mages would be retrieving certain rare volumes from the library for their Master. Like Battle on the River they would be trying to exit the table with their prizes. If a player killed one of the Mages, they got 50 experience, and would roll randomly to recover from the dead Mage one of the five books from the Lich Lord special treasure table.
|A view of the whole table. Quail & Co.'s entry point is marked with the yellow rectangle on the lower right.|
Quail managed to secure a place at one of the corners of the Library to enter her warband, but was a bit concerned when Bemis the other Sigilist arrived to enter across from her, and Chaffarn the Summoner moved to a position on her right. Diagonally across from Quail's position was the Enchanter, Basil.
Earlier in the morning, Baillisette the Apprentice had risen with the sun and come down to the tower's main dining hall, figuring she was the first to wake up. She was surprised however to find her mistress Quailelyn already sitting at the long central table, with a small pile of books next to her, sipping her usual morning tea while reading a large leather bound volume. Trying not to disturb the Maga Librarian while she read, Bailey crept as silently as possible over to the fireplace to find the kettle. Without looking up, the Sigilist said to her Apprentice, "Stir that please."
The words startled Bailey in the quiet tower, and she almost dropped the kettle. But Quail's words did bring to her attention a small pot with a long wooden spoon sticking out of it, hanging above the embers. There was a clear liquid of some sort bubbling in it, and Bailey's nose told her immediately it wasn't anything she'd want to eat. The Apprentice was still in a bit of a sleepy stupor, but she was a quick student and it didn't take her but a moment to realize that her Mistress was most likely putting to use some of what she had learned in the Grimoire of Brew Potion that they had recovered from the old witch's temple during their last trip into the ruins. Bailey knew that Quail had read the tome right away after hey got back as she was recovering from her injures, and had been practicing the magical recipes in it the last two weeks.
As ordered, Bailey took the spoon and slowly started stirring, doing her best not to bruise the pot's contents. Behind her, Quail, always the teacher, said simply, "Identify."
The young woman leaned over the pot as she stirred and breathed in the sour fumes, letting her mind sift through the various odors she detected. She then raised the spoon, and draining all but a little of its contents off, brought it towards her and gently blew on it to cool it. She stuck the little finger of her other hand in the clear liquid and then put her finger to her tongue and tasted. As her mouth sorted through the flavors, she dipped her little finger in the spoon again, and used the wet finger to trace a symbol on the back of the hand holding the spoon. The Apprentice felt the slightly oily nature of the warm broth, and watched carefully to see how the liquid reacted to he skin and the rate of evaporation. Finally she turned to Quail and ventured, "Elixer of the Chameleon? And I think it's done."
Quail looked up from her reading, and smiling at the Apprentice said, "Very Good, Bailey." The Sigilist wizard set her book down and added, "I want to start teaching you how to make these potions in the coming weeks, so you can help me with them and make your own as well." (Quail successfully casts Brew Potion pregame. Bailey fails to cast Brew Potion.)
|The party enters the outer foyer and spots the Reveal Secret treasure by the door.|
Just a couple hours later, and they were standing in the ruined city before a half collapsed stairway leading down into the frozen ground. They could tell it was once a well-made and beautifully decorated entryway. The wizards of old had great respect for their libraries, and Quail studied the carved designs on the crumbled stairwell a minute in appreciation. They rest of the party peered into the black hole, no one seeming to want to be the first to step down into the unseen dark. Finally Quail collected herself and set about assigning command groups. She felt a building excitement at the prospect of exploring a new library. Despite the dangers it might hold, her Sigilist instincts were powerful, and the slight smell of musty pages rising from the old entrance made her heart race a little. She looked back, and could see a big ear-to-ear grin on Bailey's face as well.
Slowly they made their way down the steps and emerged into a small foyer with a single long bookcase in it that had collapsed on one end. Little remained on the shelves except some moldy books, and shredded pages. They turned into a short corridor on their left that immediately turned right again, and came up upon a large wooden door, shattered and hanging from one remaining hinge. Before it lay a Grimoire chest that appeared to have been dropped by someone exiting the library in a hurry. Quail pointed to it, and said to Bailey, "Remember that is there."
They pushed past the wrecked door, and emerged into a large room containing several massive bookcases in various states of decay, as well as some dilapidated tables and smashed chairs. What had once been fine rugs, but were now ice encrusted, rotted and stained, were scattered here and there on the floor. With a knowledgeable eye the Maga Librarian scanned the shelves. Not much was left that wasn't turned to rotted and decaying heaps of frosty pulp. She felt her excitement slowly turn to dismay as she scanned the destruction of so many precious books. In the dim light Quail could see Bailey's eyes glistening with building tears. The Sigilist couldn't help but view it all and not think of her own library back at the university, and it's well kept volumes and orderly shelves. The thought of such destruction ever coming to her beloved halls was more than she could bear; so she quickly shook herself from the dark road she was traveling, and turned to the reality of the matters at hand.
Quailelyn closed her eyes and put a finger on each temple, then slowly started tracing letters with them on the side of her head as she precisely whispered another set of words, casting the spell of Awareness. She felt the spell faltering as her mind tried to pierce through so many stone walls and earth, so the Maga Librarian concentrated with all her mental power, causing a burning sensation all over the inside of her head. The pain was intense but still she pushed her mind. (Pushed spell for 4 HP) Quail gasped, not only from the pain but also as she became aware in her mind that there were nine other wizards stalking the dark labyrinth of the library currently! Also she detected five darker entities in the library that were veiled in shadow. One by one the Sigilist tried to identify the other wizards, and as she did she also got brief looks at what the possibility of their plans might be; Bemis, of course...and Charffarn...that will mean there might be demons...and over there is Basil.... One by one her mind became aware of the strings of intents that wove through the damp stone corridors. While Quail did this Bailey tried a Draining Word spell for Bone Dart, but her cast was weak and the spell was not strong enough to penetrate the ceiling of the library and blast back upon her causing her to gasp as a sharp sting drilled down through the top of her head. (Failed roll by 12, took 2 Damage). The young woman's exclamation snapped Quail out of her trance in time to detect someone else's Drain Word spell for Elemental Bolt go into effect high above them, probably Bemis she surmised.
|First maneuvers upon entering. Quail, Dorechesman, Luc and Sir C. have all entered the secret room, (bottom of the photo) while Bailey's command begins to search the main room.|
The Sigilist ducked down under the low doorway at the back of the fountain and emerged in a smaller room that had a couple more dilapidated bookcases and a low map table, still standing despite it having only three legs. There was a chest upon the map table that Quail took note of, as her eyes adjusted to the low light. She scanned the room, and saw a corridor going off to the right. She took a moment to cast Heal upon herself as her head still hurt from having to push that last spell, then she bent down and called through the fountain, "Kinny, please get the chest on the map table just inside the door. As wizard stood back up, she could sense another Drain Word spell go into effect, this time for Telekinesis, cast by Bemis' Apprentice, Agarn.
They pressed further into the room, and moved to a position at the head of the corridor that branched off to the right. From this spot they saw a tapestry in the far corner, it's golden threads glittered in the torchlight. Despite it being covered in dirty ice and the decomposed pages and spines of several books Quail could see it showed no sigh of age itself and was therefor probably magical. She motioned to Dorchesman to go and retrieve it, as she and Sir Cardidil discussed the corridor ahead of them. The Sigilist knew that Bemis' party was somewhere down that way. Luc Demic, with his excellent Marksman's eyesight, said he could detect some movement down there in what appeared to be a room a couple dozen yards away, but nothing well enough to shoot at. Sir C, and Quail quickly came to the consensus: that they had already retrieved two treasures in this room alone, and they knew there was probably more in the room Bailey was searching, plus the one they came across as they entered; so there was no need at the moment to take foolhardy risks. Quail tried to cast some Fog down the corridor to discourage anyone coming up it, but was not clear in selecting a target spot for the spell to center upon in the dark hallway, and it formed little more than a drizzly mist which merely added a cold dampness to the already damp hall. Also some actually formed in the wizard's head causing a momentary brain freeze to come over her. (Failed by 6, took 1 Damage.)
The trio waited for Dorchesman to chip the tapestry free of it's icy entrapment. Once he got it free, he bundled it under his arm, and turned, giving them a thumbs up. Quail tried once more to cast Fog, doing even more poorly this time. A light rain fell in the hallway, that turned to flurries. The brain freeze came back to Quail twofold and she had to put a hand up to the wall a moment to steady herself. (Failed with a roll of 1, taking 2 Damage) Surprisingly, the flurry in the corridor spread outward into the room until a light snow fell all around them. Quail was momentarily puzzled at this until she realized that is was just Chaffarn the Summonor up to his old tricks of using a Call Storm spell to foil any bow or crossbow shots. As Dorchesman joined them, they turned to leave the room. Quail could see Kinny had retrieved the chest off of the table at the front of the room, and had already departed.
|Quail, Luc and Sir C. discuss what may lie down the long corridor, as Dorchesman moves off to the left to recover the tapestry in the corner.|
Bailey was brought back from her pain by the sound of Cirvid growling loudly. As the Apprentice looked up, a secret door in the far wall, partially obscured from view by a large bookcase, swung open and another War Hound, this one belonging to Charffarn bounded through. Then a bark to her left caught her attention and another hound, this one Bemis', came leaping into the room through a partially collapsed door on the lefthand wall. It landed and bounded out of sight behind the book case at the far end where the secret door was, At that point the light snow from Chaffarn's Call Storm spell, began to fall in the room.
|The battle in the main room begins as Cirvid moves to meet the Summon's War Hound as he enters through a secret door. Up behind the bookcase on the right of the room, Bemis' dog can be seen approaching as well.|
Chaffarn's dog lunged at Cirvid, and Bailey quickly tried to cast Blinding Light upon it, but in her rush she forgot a line of the spell and so nothing happened. The dog's leap caught Cirvid unprepared, and with a yelp he sprawled backwards across the floor. By this time Innis reached the dog fight, but so did the Summoner's Monk. She squeezed through the secret door and lunged at Innis with her staff. He was able to dodge the long pole, it's length making it tough to use properly in the tight space, and he returned with a strong upward thrust catching the Monk in the right side. The Monk crumpled to the stone floor. Innis had little time to revel in his triumph however, as Charffarn's dog leaped at him in revenge, catching him off guard and throwing him backwards into the corner. His teeth sank deeply into Innis' shoulder at the base of the neck. (War Hound wins with a 21, reducing Innis to just 2 HP.) Innis cursed and tried to make his eyes focus through the pain, and with all his remaining strength pushed the heavy dog off him. Cirvid, having regained his footing, now leaped at the dog as it prepared to pounce again at Innis. Catching the enemy beast in the side, the mighty War Hound knocked the dog over, and his teeth and claws dug deep into the enemy dog's hide. There were a few moments of flashing teeth and guttural growls, then with a final yelp the other dog suddenly fell limply to the floor. Clol, the Barbarian, had reached the fight by this time, and grabbing Cirvid's collar he pulled him from the dead dog's body.
Meanwhile, as the snow intensified from another of Chaffarn's Call Storm spells, Bemis' Hound retraced it's steps back around the bookcase and now headed towards Bailey and the Ranger, Sallisee. Once more the Apprentice, being more careful this time, cast Blinding Light. The attempt was successful this time, and a bright glow appeared all around the dog's head. It stopped a moment and shook itself whimpering. The poor dumb animal tried frantically to paw at it it's head to clear whatever it was annoying it so. Sally ran up and with a might swing of her sword, laid the poor beast low, (Rolled a 20!) just as one of Bemis' Dwarven Treasure Hunters trotted into the room on short sturdy legs, and headed towards the Ranger.
|In the thick of it. While part of the party have fended off the Summoner's troops, the rest try to face Bemis' soldiers.|
Across the room Sallisee had her own worries, and was not able to devote a thought to Bailey. The Ranger's ears also rung from the confined blast. Her sword clanged against that of the Dwarf's, and with them locked at the hilt, she lift one leg and kicked the enemy treasure hunter hard in the chest. He staggered backwards a few feet. Cirvid lumbered over to assist, just in time to meet the rush of the second Dwarven Treasure Hunter. Despite his stature the second Dwarf was agile and out maneuvered the dog, side-stepping his attack and plunged his weapon into the dogs flank. Cirvid yelped, and fell over like a tree, laying on the snowy floor without moving.
Having just taken out the dog, the second Dwarf now turned on Sally. Luc Demic, who was first to enter the room from the secret side room, where he had been with Quail, raised his crossbow and aimed as he advanced across the snowy floor. Planting his feet, the Marksman fired at the advancing enemy Captain, but rushed the shot in the blowing storm, and missed by a wide margin. The Dwarf had his bloodlust up and went at the Ranger like he was possessed. With a quick stroke he knocked Sally's blade away, and on the return caught her thigh with a deep gash. She went down on one knee, blood flowing down her injured leg. (Sally reduced to 3 HP)
|At the height. Bemis casts his Grenade.|
Maenwhile the battle raged, Innis had hobbled over to the treasure in the corner, and picking it up , began to drag it away. Seeing him leaving with the treasure, the enemy Treasure Hunter that had been pushed out of combat with Sally, turned and ran towards Innis. Bemis himself now entered the room, and seeing Luc standing there with his crossbow, quickly threw up a wall of Fog. That didn't discourage Sir Cardidil, who raced as fast as his heavy armor wold allow towards the opposing Sigilist.
Sally now sparred with the second Dwarf Treasure Hunter as Bemis' Captain charged at her to join the fray. Knowing she couldn't stand much longer against two foes, Sallisee turned toward the new foe and made a desperate upswing with her weapon using all her remaining strength. The sudden maneuver was enough to catch the Captain off guard, and before he could properly defend, the Ranger's blade had hit right under his arm and gone up under his armored chest piece. The thrust knocked him sideways where he spun and hit his head on the shelf of the nearby bookcase then fell to the ground old cold. Unfortunately, it gave the enemy Treasure Hunter an opening and he took the opportunity to jab his sword into Sally's side. The thrust knocked the Ranger backwards, she stumbled, fell, and lay there motionless on the snowy floor.
Seeing Sally fall, Clol charged up to the Dwarf, but the little Treasure Hunter had his battle lust up, and another mighty thrust from his weapon fell the big Barbarian. Sir Cardidil burst through the fog wall at that point and made a beeline toward Bemis. Acting quickly Bemis spat out the words of a Transpose spell, and Sir C suddenly found himself, sword raised to strike, standing next to Innis as he dragged away the treasure. Likewise, Bemis' Treasure Hunter suddenly found himself face to face with own wizard, with his weapon raised and ready to strike.
The enemy wizard realized there was no point in pressing further, and an unspoken truce suddenly fell over the room. Bemis and his followers began to withdraw. The survivors of Quails party rushed to check on the fallen.
|Near the end. Sir Cardidil, on the left, charges towards Bemis' fog wall.|
Back at their tower base later that evening, the party gathered in the main dining hall. There was a noticeable difference in those who had spent most of the time in the room behind the secret fountain or left early with treasure, and those who had been in the thick of the fighting in the main room. So it fell upon Kinny, Barc, Luc, Sir C, Dorchesman, and Quail herself, to tend to the injured and weary that had taken part in the fierce battle in the main room. Luckily, once again, only poor Cirvid had come away with a really Bad Wound. Both Sally and Clol bounced back quickly after an application of a Healing spell from Quail. Quail figured in the next day or two she could head into the village and get an inexpensive 10 GC healing salve for the loyal War Hound.
The party now sat around in small groups here and there, drinking and talking in low voices about the day's events. Quailelyn sat at the big main table, the treasure they had recovered that day laid out before her. (The group recovered 5 treasures) There were three battered but salvageable grimoires (Elemental Hammer, Bind Demon, and Banish), as well as several small decorative objects of value (an ornate inkwell, statuette, and bejeweled paperweight) that could be turned into money One of the chests was piled high with nothing but gold coins, and the tapestry they had found turned out to be a Banner of Courage. All in all a very profitable trip.
None of the bounty particularly interested the Maga Librarian at the moment though; for as she sat there with the wealth all spread our before her, and absentmindedly flipped through the pages of the Banish Grimoire, her attention was elsewhere. Her gaze and thoughts were across the hall, as she looked at the back of her young Apprentice, who sat alone and silent before the warm glow of the large fireplace. Bailey's knees were drawn up tightly to her chest, with her arms wrapped around them as she stared fixedly at the flickering light, lost in thought. As Quail watched her, the young woman reached one hand up and gingerly touched the white scar along her right cheek, then moved to the one on running across her forehead.
Quail reflected on the fact that, while a Heal spell (which she had had to perform 2 more times on Bailisette to get her feeling human again) was good at relieving pain and magically stitching together skin, or knitting broken bone, even healing the bruising of internal organs; it was next to useless on the mind and mental trauma. Also, it did little to restore the constitution and the pure systemic drain that brutal injuries can inflict on a body. The Sigilist fretted about what she had let happen to her Apprentice and whether she had been selfish and foolhardy to drag the poor girl away from the safety and security of the university's halls. Her face, full of youthful beauty, would now carry the permanent scars of a magical attack. A Heal spell could mend the skin, but it wouldn't erase the magical damage done to the cells that composed it; and Bailey would wear the scares for the rest of her life.
Quail realized that slowly, over the months, it had all turned from being a grand adventure to suddenly being much more serious. Once again she had felt the growing evil in the city on this expedition; and, beyond the other wizards who probed the library as she did, her Awareness spell had made her conscious of the presence of evil entities that had roamed the library's halls that day as well, with foul purpose. She couldn't just leave now, as there was a growing feeling that something important was coming in the distance; and it was vital for her to be here to face it.
The library game has been a tense one both times, and very different in feel to all the other scenarios. In the tight confines, most of your spells become next to useless. as you seldom see other figures or treasures except for those that are immediately in the same room with you.
It was a banner day for treasure (recovering 5), but spell-wise it was a big disaster. Not only was I severely hampered by what choices I had in the tight terrain, I also (as is typical) rolled atrociously; successfully casting only 7 spells in 8 turns of play, plus pregame. And many of my failures came with HP loss.
The 10 player game was an interesting experience. Due to the limited sight lines in the Library, and the large spread of players, the game actually moved pretty quickly, as there were seldom times when sequential numbers were anywhere near each other causing players to have to wait extended amounts of time for their turn. It was however loud and chaotic, and you had no sense of what was going on in other parts of the table. Hopefully this overflow of players won't happen too often.
Quail and Co. ended up with a boatload of money this time. They got the d20 x 25 GC coin results on one of their treasure rolls (and rolled a 16 for the amount!), and along with the GC that came with the Grimoire rolls, and selling the Banner of Courage (which seems rather useless) it was a nice haul. So Sally got a new magic bow; and now Quail is debating a Celestial Telescope, or perhaps a Sarcophagus of Healing. It might also be worth her time to peruse the Catalog of Grimiores and see if there are any spells she might benefit from purchasing outright.
She'll need to decide fast, as the next expedition is already only two weeks away.
For Bemis' account of the battle, see: Into The Library
For the next game in the campaign, Game 7, see: The District of Longreach