Sunday, September 25, 2016

Frostgrave Campaign: Game 8

  This past Saturday we got together for out monthly Frostgrave Campaign game.  We had 7 of our 8 participants, so with 7 wizards in play we used the big 12'x3' table.    We were doing one of the book scenarios this time: The Keep; and one of our own devising: The Invasion of the Frost Giants.
   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 the report on the previous game, please see: Game 7
  For the report of the next game, please see: Game 9
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. 
     With the seating assigned by level, my Illusionist, Kodak, once again found himself across from his old nemesis Knabe the Druid, and next to that wiley Chronomancer known as the Doctor.   With his keen elvish sense of smell the old Illusionist could tell there was a troop of Giants near them in the ruins almost as soon as he and his warband entered the outskirts of the city.  They're probably  a raiding party, he thought to himself.  He knew this might be a good opportunity to learn a little more about the Frost Giants, as well as obtain any treasure that they themselves may have looted.   He  paused amidst the ruins, and divided his party into three groups.  With him he took Riessa the Templar, Danlin the Marksman, and Weiss the Archer .  Kodak assigned to his Apprentice, Leighlyndana: Edel the Archer, Bash the Man-at-Arms, and the new Treasure Hunter Connisyn Marcus.    That left the Treasure Hunter Mellily Ising, the Thieves Linesse and Cadwalleter, and Kinddrif the War Hound to act under their own initiative.  The Illusionist took a moment to try to cast a new spell he had learned, Illusionary Soldier, but failed to produce little more than a slight shadow upon the snowy ground.  Frowning, he looked over at Leighlyndana as if to say, "Well, can you do better?" The young half-elf looked a bit startled, but not one to back down from a challenge she too tried; but had similar poor results.  "We'll both need to practice that one", Kodak said gruffly, and pointed at the group to move forward.
Kodak's warband as they prepare to enter the city.
     The party climbed over a tall pile of rubble to suddenly find a Frost Giant about a dozen yards away staring up perplexedly and shouting at the bronze statue of an Elf warrior.  Another giant was a about a hundred yards further away rooting through his knapsack as if looking for something.   Kodak turned to Riessa, Danlin, and Weiss and quickly formulated a plan;  a plan Kodak would soon regret.
     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.
        She swung mightily at the Giant, but he blocked with his huge shield and the sword deflected; but on the backswing the tip caught the Giant's leg making a small slice in his right thigh.  Realizing things could go badly very quick, Mellily the Treasure Hunter raced forward, as did Linesse the Thief.  Mellily just reached the fight and stood poised with her sword and knife next to Riessa, as the Giant raised his short-handled battle axe and brought it down with a diagonal slice.  Riessa braced herself, and brought up Elessa to block the blow.  But, before she knew what was happening, the Giant also swung out his shield with his other arm, catching the Templar in the left shoulder.  It was enough to unbalance her, and as the Giant's axe came down the Templar's sword was angled so that the axe hit the sword where the blade meets the hand guard with a  mighty clang and knocked it back with such force that it caught Elessa in her own shoulder right above her armor, cutting deeply into the base of her neck. The axe head sliced down, off the sword, cleaving the Templar's breast plate in two and cutting deep into Elessa's chest. She crumpled to the snow as the rest of the party looked on in horror. (Giant rolled 20 + 5 Fight)
    Mellily now faced the Giant alone.
The death of Riessa.  Kodak disappears and suddenly Mellily feels very alone.
       Kodak was beyond horrified.  He had to get away from the scene before him.  Flashbacks of seeing the Templar's twin sister, Elessa, his oldest and dearest friend, laying in the snow dead, killed by a Wraith's cursed sword,  came flooding back to him.   He turned and ran; and seeing one of the ancient magical Teleport Pads that were an old legend of Frostgrave,  he jumped upon it and let fate dictate what would happen to him.  In a blink he was gone.  Mellily didn't have time to worry about where Kodak had gone as she stood bravely before the Giant.  She had not known the Templar Riessa well, having just joined the group a couple months ago, and the Treasure Hunter knew that there would be time for mourning the fallen later: she had a Giant to deal with now. Mellily knew the Giant's method of attack now, but he didn't now hers; and as he stood there grinning dully at the destruction he had just caused, the Treasure Hunter pounced.  She sprang up, fully blocking the shield with her body, and as she held her sword up to block  his axe, she shoved her knife deep into his shoulder. She landed gracefully again, as he howled with pain; but he was far from dead.  Linesse the Thief looked on helplessly, knowing her fight skills would be next to useless compared to a Giant's.         Mellily however had already quickly positioned herself and poised for another attack, when her ears heard the distant twang of a crossbow being fired.  She reflexively ducked and she then heard the dull sound of the bolt hitting flesh.  Expecting to suddenly feel the pain shoot through her, she was surprised to see the Giant fall forward, dead, next to the Templar, a bolt sticking from his back.  She looked up and peered into the distance to see a stocky Dwarf standing near a pile of old empty and rotting chests.  He lowered his weapon, and touched his hat in salute. Still stunned, Mellily gave a half wave of recognition back.  She quickly regained herself, and bent down to search the Giant's body for treasure.  She found a small sack of what felt like gold coins, and grabbing it, quickly tied it to her belt.  As she turned to go, she saw the Templar's sword laying nearby in the blood stained snow. She reached over grabbed it, then used her knife to cut the Templar's cloak loose to wrap up the weapon.  She tucked the long bundle under her arm, and made her way towards the edge of the city.
Kodak lands on an old Viaduct.
     Meanwhile, Leighlyndana was surveying the city, and seeing very few places where treasure might be hidden.  It appeared that most of the treasure had been taken by the city's inhabitants to the Teleport Pads as the Cataclysm was hitting and the populace tried to make an escape.  Time now showed how futile these attempts to flee had been, as treasure was now left scattered on the Teleport Pads along with the scattered bones of it's original owners.
   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 was getting tired now having fought and defeated two foes. She didn't even have time to wipe the sweat from her brow though, before the Druid's huge Bear, Bobo, came flying over the wall of the tower propelled by a Leap spell.  The bear didn't land as gracefully as the Leopard had, and he was already a bit battered and bloodied from having fought a Giant, but he still presented a formidable foe.  Nonetheless, the Apprentice mustered her last bit of strength and jabbed at the beast, catching him squarely in the chest. With a short half-growl half-yelp, the bear joined the pile of lifeless bodies on the floor. (Roll of 18 + 3 Fight)
   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.
     Kodak, in the meantime, had ended up across the city on a Teleport Pad located on a ruined viaduct which crossed over the city.  On the pad lay a treasure chest which had fallen over and spilled it's contents across the teleportation device.  Kodak quickly scooped everything back into the chest and picked it up.  He stood up and peered out over the city.  Beneath him he could see elements from four different warbands fighting in the ruins below.  He knew it would only be a matter of time until someone noticed him up on the span, and sure enough an arrow clattered against the roadbed of the viaduct near his feet.  He began to make his way down the viaduct away from the fighting, but was not fast enough, as another arrow hit him in the shoulder.  The old Elf winced in pain, and almost dropped the chest he was carrying.  He moved over to the side of the viaduct and tried to spot the location of the rest of his group.   He took his bearing off a large ruined tower on a hill which he could see in the distance, and saw a spot he could safely Teleport himself too under his own power.  Chanting the words of the Teleportation spell he blinked once and found himself back near where he had entered the city.  He caught his breath, moved to a position where he was sure he was in cover, and cast a Heal spell on himself.
And Bash gets a treasure from the nearby smaller tower.  The old warrior has no time to puzzle over the ice wall standing there, and what might be behind it (Elsa the Elementalist wizard) The Man-at-Arms isn't sure, but as picks up the treasure, he thinks he hears a faint voice sing out,  "Let it go..."
      Other members of the Illusionist's warband had realized on their own initiative that the only way to gain any treasure was to risk the fate of the  city's Teleportation system.  So both Connisyn the Treasure Hunter, and Bash the Man-at-Arms, tempted their fate on the nearby pad.  Connisyn had landed on a pad near a treasure atop the old ruined tower that Kodak had used to get his bearings.  Bash landed on a nearby smaller tower also with a treasure. The dead body of a Thug lay by the treasure, and a magical wall of ice stood astride one corner of the tower.  The old warrior didn't puzzle over these objects for long, but instead grabbed the treasure and began to make his way down the tower.  Likewise Connisyn was climbing down with her treasure too; being sure to stay in the shadows, out of sight of any crossbowman's or archer's eyes.
   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.

The Druid Knabe's report can be found here: There be Giants!
The Elementalist Elsa's report can be found here:  Giants in the City

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ruined Wizard's Tower for Frostgrave From Dollar Tree Gift Boxes

     Over the past couple weeks I have been working on making a Ruined Wizard's Tower out of 3 hexagonal gift boxes that I bought at the local Dollar Tree store.  For a while I had been contemplating how to make a traditionally cylindrical wizards tower out of the cork tiles I've been using to make my Frostgrave buildings; and all attempts at bending the cork into a tightly curved shape had been unsuccessful.  Then it hit me that I could possibly use a multi-sided geometric shape to give the idea of a circular tower without it actually bring curved.  I just needed to find a form to work from, as doing such a complicated structure freehand, making all the sides, angles, and measurements come out right with my measuring and cutting skills, would be difficult.
    And then I found these boxes...
     I began by cutting the boxes into a rough ruined tower shape, and then glued the lids of each box to the underside of the box above it, so the tower could be easily taken apart and reassembled. I also glued the "ground floor" box to a cork base.
    I then began covering  the sides of each "floor" of the tower with sections of cork tile.
 Since the box lids stuck out a little further than the walls of each box, I covered the edges of the lids with sections of pink insulation foam carved to look like rows of stone blocks. I also cut sections of dowels to fit in the joints between the cork wall sections.
     I glued some old plaster window frames I had into holes I cut in one of the walls on each floor.   On the top floor I build the framework of an old roof using balsa wood and shingles cut from cardboard.
          Inside the tower, I cut cardboard flagstones for the ground floor, and used balsa strips to make floor planks for the other three floors.
   On the ground floor I also added some interior walls, and the ruins of a wood stair case.
   My last construction step was to add rubble and debris all over the base of the tower, and a little on each floor.
   After all the glue was dry, I sprayed the entire thing with black spray paint.  When that was dry, I began drybrushing the stonework with dark grey paint.
     I did two more successively lighter shades of grey drybrushing on the stonework, and then did three levels of brown drybrushing on the wood parts.  Lastly, I painted the shingles and the metal bits.

   And here is the end result, shown with a Reaper 28mm figure for scale:

    I'm really happy with how this turned out, and look forward to using it in this Saturday's Frostgrave game.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

HAWKs Game Day 9.17.16

   A bunch of the HAWKs got together on Saturday to play in a couple games with the goal of testing out some new rules for some under-development rule writing projects.
   The first was a WWII game using "Look, Sarge, No Charts: WWII" rules GM'd by Buck Surdu.  Even though this was a WWII game, the goal of playing it was to test out the concept of a cyber-phase for each turn, to be used in the upcoming "Look Sarge, No Charts; Sci-Fi/Near Future rulebook.
  I was in command of a battalion of French infantry tasked with taking a town and nearby bridge from a German force occupying it.   The game turned out to be a real nail-biter with the battle going down to the final turns.   In the end, when we had to stop due to the time, the Germans still barely held both objectives, but it would just have been a matter of a few turns more before we captured both targets.
   More importantly, we got a chance to see the cyber phase in action; and I think it worked really well.  While the first few turns were a relative stalemate cyber-wise, the French had some success late in the game in penetrating the German's computer network, causing some real headaches which prevented the Germans from getting reinforcements to the town.
     The second game was a War of 1812 scenario designed to test the new artillery rules for the upcoming Napoleonic supplement to "Combat Patrol", GM'd by Duncan Adams.  This game featured a small British held coastal town that was being raided by a force of Americans intent on gathering supplies for the approaching winter.
   Overlooking the water was a 6-pounder cannon, which could be swung around to shoot inland as well.  I was put in command of the gun and a small garrison force for the redoubt where the gun was located.  Part of the American objectives were to put the gun out of action so they could move some small boats up the waterway to haul off any supplies they liberated.
    At skirmish level, where canister range is almost the entire table, cannons are tricky things to incorporate.   Luckily the Americana's had lots of cover to hide behind.  I was able to get one shot off at a unit in the open, moving between patches of cover, with devastating results. A second shot went high, and a third shot did some hurt on a unit in a patch of woods.
    In the end I still had control of the cannon, but other sections of our perimeter had been badly chewed up, and the Americans were able to loot a large amount of supplies.  However, we still controlled the water, so they would have to haul their loot away the hard way by hand.
   There was a third game after this, which was Star Wars using modified "Combat Patrol"; but unfortunately I had to leave at this point.  It was really fun day and the rules tests were deemed a success.