We had 6 of our regular players in attendance for Saturday's outing to face the Lich Lord in a final showdown. The scenario has the Lich Lord using his powerful magic to lift a whole section of the city, including a fortified manor, high up into the air; where it sits suspended by huge chains above the ruins of Feldstad. The Wizards and their warbands must climb these chains to get to the Lich Lord. This required a different set-up then our usual long table, and because we had 6 players, we modified the more linear set up that is described in the Lich Lord scenario book. So, I arranged the tables into a 6' x 7.5' surface, and on this I laid out a somewhat six-sided gaming area. I then marked an entry point in each of the 6 corners, representing where the chains were attached and the players would ascend to the battlefield.
There was also a host of the Lich Lord's minions waiting to face us that needed to be preset on the table. This included 6 Wraith Knights, 18 Death Cultists, and 36 Armored Skeletons (plus one extra Armored Skeleton that the Lich Lord personally raises pre-game), and the Lich Lord himself. We placed 3 Treasures each; either in, or adjacent to, the manor house ruins in the center of the table. Also placed there was Lich Lord, with the spells Elemental Shield and Time Store, already in place.
I got last set-up choice again, but with the 6-sided play area, it didn't make make much difference to me where I set up, as all roads led to a whole bunch of enemies. I ended up with the Necromancer, Missy, on my left, and the Soothsayer, Gru, on my right.
For an account of last months game, see: The Bones Wheels
|A look at the table at the start of the game.|
The Sigilist Quailelyn sat at the long table in her tower's great hall and sipped quietly at a cup of tea. Though she looked the picture of peace and serenity, her active mind whirred frenetically as she puzzled and fretted over the growing Evil which lurked just a couple miles away in the ruined city of Felstad. It had been months now since the Evil had revealed itself, and she seemed no closer to discovering what exactly It was, and where It dwelt. There were rumors, of course; a great Necromancer, a Foul Demon, some unknown Thing that the wizards of the old city had created and then laid waste to their city trying to destroy. Surely, Quail and her fellow Wizards had been able to defeat the Evil's many efforts to gain more power, but the face of Evil itself had never shown itself.
Bailisette, the Sigilist's Apprentice walked slowly into the room, saw her Mistress was deep in thought, yawned quietly, and headed towards the fire to see if there was still any tea left. She had not gone more than two paces into the hall when the morning sun outside suddenly darkened, then a bright flash of green light lit the room, followed by a loud BOOM in the distance. Quail's head shot up, and she glared at Bailey as if she caused the disturbance. Bailey looked back at the Wizard with surprise, and made a gesture indicating she had no idea what just happened.
Without a word, Quail shot up, and headed for the nearest window. There were two more bright flashes in quick succession followed by another tower-shaking , BOOM and then a loud CRACK, like metal striking rock, only amplified several times over.
"With me." the Siglist barked, and headed for the stairs leading up the tower to the parapet. Quail stepped out into the cold morning air, followed closely by her Apprentice, and stopped suddenly in shock. Bailey almost ran into her. TheWizard looked out over the ruins of the city and saw black clouds roiling out towards them. The green flashes cut through the darkness almost continuously now, and the thunder-like sounds came in quick succession, as if the very city was being torn apart. Something hit Quail's cheek and she instinctively looked up as her hand went to her face. It was an ice crystal. Then another. Fine snow-like ice crystals were falling, and the Wizards nose now detected the smell of rock dust in the air. The two Spell-casters could do nothing but stand there in awe, and watch in disbelief. Quail silently prayed that the world was not ending.
|Quail's warband enters in a ruined building and takes a moment to get its bearings.|
Quail turned to her, said with fierce determination, "We must find out what this means."
The Sigilist had read about many magical events in her years, had seen some bizarre things herself, but nothing compared to this. She felt lost, a feeling she was not used to. Pacing on the parapet, the Wizard tried to form a conclusion. Then, Bailey suddenly drew Quail's attention. "Look", said the young woman, and she pointed up in the sky where a small bird flew in a haphazard course directly at them. It landed at Quails feet, and as the two women gazed at it. They saw it wasn't a bird at all, but an intricately folded parchment. Quail snatched it up. Hurriedly, she unfolded the bird. "It's a letter." Her eyes went down to the bottom first. "From Bemis". Her eyes danced back and forth across the page. "There's going to be a meeting of Wizards, at least those of us who aren't heading for the hills already, in the tavern. In an hour. To discus what this..." and she flourished a hand towards the city, "...is all about." The Sigilist looked up at Bailey, "Good. We'll get some answers."
There were six Wizards and their Apprentices who were brave, or foolhardey, enough to stay and attend the meeting. Quail and Bailey, and of course their fellow Sigilists, Bemis and Agarn; also the Elementalist Alfred the Unready and his boy Apprentice, and Gru the Soothsayer and Agnes, and the Summoner Challara and his Apprentice. As they pooled their information, Quail learned that, sure enough, it was the Great Evil that had done this; and the belief amongst those of them that had more information, was that it was an immensely powerful Lich. The consensus between all six of them was that tearing the city apart like had been done, must have taken an immense amount of magical power; and no matter how powerful the Lich might be, he was surely drained and weaker after such a feat. If they were going to have a chance and strike against the Evil, now was the opportunity.
Back at their tower, there was no time for Quail or Bailey to look at the their Magical Atlas to detect any hidden treasures in the raised section of city, (Both fail Reveal Secret), and certainly no time to get involved with brewing any potions (Both fail Brew Potion). Everyone gathered their things as quickly as possible and headed for the rendezvous point. Quail, however, did take the time to grab the scroll of Illusionary Soldier out of the vault, and she read it quickly when they reached the base of the chain they were assigned to ascend.
|Quail and Bailey Fog their flanks as a group of Ghouls climbs up over the edge of the floating rock.|
Through the crumbling window frames to their front, Luc Demic, the Marksman, spotted a Death Cultist in the distance and fired his crossbow, hitting the man, but only wounding him. Then, Sir Cardidil the Knight spotted three Ghouls climb up from below the ledge, not far from where they all stood. (Treasure generated Random Encounter.), and shouted out a warning. Cirvid, the Warhound, lumbered forward and fiercely leapt at the nearest; sinking his teeth into the creature and killing it. Unfortunately, this allowed a second Ghoul to fall upon the distracted dog, cutting a deep gash in the animal's flank with his ghastly claw like hands. The poor beast fell to the snow and lay motionless. The third Ghoul advanced at the Illusionary Soldier, who had obediently moved towards the danger.
Seeing Cirvid fall, Quail extended her right arm with her hand palm outwards, and recited the Push spell. The Ghoul, turning from the downed Warhound, was suddenly hurled a few dozen yards off the edge of the floating rock. Then gravity took effect, and it fell down towards to the city below, disappearing from view. With so many undead creatures lurking about, Bailey quickly tried to cast Awareness on herself, but she had little to no experience working the spell, and only ended up giving herself a splitting headache (Takes 2 HP damage). Meanwhile, Barc, the Man-at-Arms, ran up, and before the Ghoul could strike at the Illusionary Soldier, the Man at Arms, ran the creature through with his sword. Luc took a second shot at the Death Cultist, who had started advancing towards them despite his wound, and killed the man. Sallisee, the Ranger, was surprised to see one of the Armored Skeletons come round Bailey's fog wall, and took a hasty shot, missing it. As she curse her aim, Clol the Barbarian bounded by her, and with one swoop of his mighty Club of Battering, he smashed the skeleton into a pile of broken bones. In the far distance Quail could make out the Lich Lord himself standing up in the middle of the main floor of a ruined manor house. He was all dressed in cursed red armor, and his head was nothing more than a skull with glowing eyes. As she watched he turned and fired an Elemental Bolt at some unseen target towards the distant left. The Sigilist tried to remember who had come up the chain in that direction, and recalled it was Alfred the Unready. (Lich Lord hit, but did no damage.)
|A lone Armored Skeleton approaches around Bailey's fog wall.|
As Quail moved forward, she saw the bright green words of a Drain Word spell for Telekinesis appear in the air. As Drain Word was one of Bemis' calling cards, she figured he must not have been wounded too badly by the Lich Lord. Looking towards the Lich Lord again, the Siglist spotted a promising chest just inside an arch of the manor house, and despite the Draining Word in effect, she successfully casting Telekinesis and watched as the chest slowly drifted towards them, and dropped gently to the the snow. Then, the Wizard's jaw dropped as the chest started moving again, but this time towards where Gru was located. Quail was infuriated, and called to Bailey, "That Soothsayer is stealing our chest! Block his view!" Bailey didn't want to question Quail's order, but all the young Apprentice could see from her position was the two Fog walls she had already made, she had no idea where Gru was located. So, despite her better judgement the young woman stepped forward and passed through the Fog walls she had made to the far side, just at the juncture between the two. She spotted Gru's location, and easily threw up a wall of Fog blocking his sight from the chest. As Bailey finished the spell, she felt a stab of excruciating fire in her side, and she cried out in shock and pain. Looking down she saw the spike of a Bone Dart protruding from just under her ribcage on the right side. (Thrown by Gru's Apprentice, Agnes.) Bailey felt faint, and the ground beneath her feet seemed to roll and pitch. (Bailey reduced to only 2 HP.) As she tried to stay conscious, a second stab of pain shot through her left shoulder, and through blurry eyes, she turned her head to see a crossbow bolt from one of Gru's Marksmen sticking at an angle into her arm. Her eyes lost focus, the world gave a last roll beneath her feet, and her body pitched backwards into her Fog wall as all went black.
|Bailey fatefully moves through the fog to cast a blocking wall to prevent Gru from stealing their treasure.|
Meanwhile, the Treasure Hunter, Innis Flynn, followed by the Illusionary Soldier rushed forward to retrieve the chest Gru was trying to steal. Quail saw them advance, then watched in horror as the new Fog wall Bailey had made melted away. (Gru used an Ivory Scroll of Dispel Magic.) With the wall gone Innis was exposed to all of Gru's force, and he too felt the stab of one of Agnes' Bone Darts, followed in quick succession by a bolt form a crossbow. His momentum caused him to pitch a few feet forward, as he came crashing down to the snowy pavement, where he lay motionless. Quail could see a trio of Gru's soldiers running forward now. They reached the chest, and the Sigilist cursed under he breath. Sallisee tried to fire at one, but missed. Dorchesman ran forward to retrieve the second chest, and Clol, and the little halfling Treasure Hunter, Kinny, ran towards the steps of the ruined manor house.
|Kinny and Clol ascend the stairs of the manor house as nearby Dorchesman carries off his chest. Over on the right, Gru's troops reach the disputed chest and start hauling it away.|
Outside the ruined manor house, a skirmish was developing between Gru's warband and Quail's. Quail tried to send a Furious Quill at Gru's Treasure Hunter, but the yellow creature successfully batted it away. Luc, however, fired at the creature with his crossbow and killed it. Gru launched a Bone Dart at Barc as he approached, hitting him; but the tough Man-at-Arms kept advancing. The Soothsayer's Marksman fired at the Imaginary Soldier, hitting it. The magic dissolved and the soldier slowly turned to a fine mist and floated away.
|The noose closes around the Lich Lord.|
They all nearly fell as a shock wave went through the ground, and they felt the entire floating rock drop a couple inches in a single lurch. It didn't stop dropping either. The floating city block slowly continued descending. As everyone scrambled to leave the house, Clol turned towards the second treasure, only to see one of Gru's soldiers coming up the far steps and snatch up the prize. Infuriated, the Barbarian ran forward to strike this thief, but the strange yellow creature was quicker than the big human, and stabbed at him with his sword, cutting a deep gash. Clol stumbled backwards, bleeding and shocked. (reduced to 3 HP) Thinking better of pursuing, the Barbarian turned and joined those fleeing from the ruined manor house.
|The final battle, while Kinny uses the distraction to sneak forward and grab the nearby treasure.|
|Those who left the battle under their own power, along with their two treasures.|
"There, there, my child" Quail said soothingly. "There's no need. We succeeded. The Evil is gone. Rest now."
Later that night, when the Sigilist had time to look at the chests that had been retrieved, she found one held a pair of Boots of Leaping, and the other had a Grimoire of Forget Spell. There was also 160 gold coins. As she sat and leafed through the Grimoire, she was surprised to hear a familiar barking at the main door; and sure enough there was Cirvid, his fur bloody and matted, who somehow had survived and returned home.
Returning home was a good thing, she thought to herself. Her mind turned to her library back at the University. While a year ago she had been desperate to escape it's dark cold halls, she now longed for its comforting familiarity, and its quiet security.
It was a frustrating game from start to finish. I should have known when I failed both my Reveal Secret rolls, and both my Brew Potion rolls, that it was going to be one of those days, and it was. I couldn't roll to save myself. I feel extremely thankful that I even managed to get two treasures, and that no one died.
The Lich Lord himself proved to be a bit of a disappointment. I can see where having a player actually play the Lich Lord himself (as is recommended in the book) is much better than using the programed actions like we did. It didn't help that all but one of his Elemental Bolts did no damage. The programed actions also allowed me to easily evade the skeletons with my Fog.
The final battle proved interesting, though very anti-climatic. It really showed the value of an experienced Captain in Frostgrave. And gave me a brief glimpse of what playing with a Heritor in Ghost Archipelago will be like.
And on a final note, last game Quail matched Kodak's achievement by reaching level 29; this time she rose past him to level 33.
To read Bemis' account of the battle, see: Death of the Lich Lord