Friday, October 28, 2016

Quick and SImple Frostgrave Fog Walls

     Most of the other guys in our Frostgrave campaign game have already made fog walls, and since my wizard never had learned the Fog spell, I had never had a need to build any.  However, with my Fall-In Frostgrave game fast approaching, I thought it was about time I build some for myself.
     The materials are simple; some foam core, some cotton batting, and some 1.25" fender washers that I had pre-spray-primed with flat white..
     I cut the foam core into 3"x6" sections, and then I cut a small slot in the bottom center of the foam core section for the washer to fit into.  Next, I cut the cotton batting into a long 7" strip.   I coated the faces, and the top of the foam core "wall" with Aleene's Tacky glue, and then carefully took the cotton batting strip and wrapped it around the foam core, from the bottom on one side, up over the top, and then down the other side.  I then cut it flush with the two long bottom edges.  Next, I cut the sides of the cotton batting down until there is just a slightly longer than quarter inch flap on one of the edges.  I then smear the Tacky glue down the two side edges, and carefully fold the side flaps over.
      Lastly, I use the Tacky glue to glue the washer in the slot I cut in the bottom.  I set the finished wall to dry between two paint bottles to hold it upright while the glue sets.   Though the Frostgrave rulebook calls for 1" thick fog walls, these end up being only a little over a half in inch wide. I'm not too worried as the thickness of the wall has seldom had a  bearing on game play that I have found; and these will fit more easily in among the many ruins and scatter terrain we use.
    Here is a photo of three finished walls, shown with a 28mm figure for scale.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Frostgrave Campaign: Game 9

     Yesterday (Sunday) we got together for out monthly Frostgrave Campaign game.  We had 6 of our 8 participants; so with only 6 wizards in play, though I had set up the big 12' x 3' table (because we were expecting 7, but one couldn't make it that morning), we used only 9'  of the table.    We were doing another one of the book scenarios this time: The Complex Temple; and one of our own devising: The Menagerie.
   For The Complex Temple the only slight change we made, was having each player place one column, for a total of 6 column.
   The Menagerie scenario was created around he idea of an ancient wizard who had assembled a collection of exotic animals from across the globe and kept them caged in an underground lair, where they were protected in some sort of suspended animation for the last 1000 years.  They had now been revived for some reason or another, and were breaking free from their enclosures and making their way to the surface where they were wandering about freely.  Each player placed 3 animals to start. Then, there were two buildings designated the menagerie headquarters where 1-3 animals would spawn from each turn.    The animals were worth Experience Points if you killed them (on a sliding scale based on your level: more XP the lower your level, less XP the higher you were)  Also, if you searched the body after killing the animal, you could roll a d20 with  a result of 15-20 resulting in your having found some part of the animal that was valuable (horn, heart, pelt, etc) and would act as a treasure.  At the end of the game you could roll for this treasure on the treasure table and receive what ever Gold Coin result you got but not any other part of the treasure roll (no magic items, scrolls, potions, or grimoires.)   You also got the standard 50 XP for recovering a treasure.
     We also each placed one normal treasure.
     For a report on the previous game, see: Game 8
     For the report on the next game, see Game 10
     For the tale of how Sister Zandkara came to join Kodak's warband, see: The Templar's Tale
A look at the table at the start.  Kodak and his band entered in the middle on the left, just on the far side of the viaduct.
     We tried a new seating arrangement this time; putting the two highest wizards in the center and surrounding them with the other four players.   With this seating arrangement, my Illusionist, Kodak once again found himself across from his old nemesis Knabe the Druid, and next to the Enchanter on his left, and the Sigilist on his right.  
     Kodak paused amidst the ruins, and divided his party into three groups.  With him he took the new Templar, Sister Zandkara,  Danlin the Marksman, and Weiss the Archer .  Kodak assigned to his Apprentice, Leighlyndana: Edel the Archer, Bash the Man-at-Arms, and the Treasure Hunter Mellily Ising     That left the Treasure Hunter Connisyn Marcus, the Thieves Linesse and Cadwalleter, and Odullorf the new War Hound to act under their own initiative.  The Illusionist took a moment to cast the spell Illusionary Soldier; and before their eyes, a figure materialized before them wearing the gear of a Thief.
A shot of the warband before they entered the ruins. L to R; Kodak, Leighlyndana, Danlin, Sister Zandkara, Cadwalleter, Melilly Ising, Bash, Connisyn Marcus, Linesse, Edel, Illusionary Soldier, Weiss, Odullorf.
   Kodak had chosen this section of town to investigate for two reasons; first he had heard tales of strange columns that contained both treasure and knowledge, but were deadly if approached; secondly there were rumors of strange animals that roamed this section of town, some that hadn't been seen on this continent in centuries.  The old Illusionist was not disappointed because he did not have to search far before he found a column standing just a short distance away. He approached it with his staff at the ready, and when he got close to the column it let out an electric charge towards the wizard like a miniature lighting bolt.  Kodak was able to dodge it, and gave the column a good sound thwack with his staff which seemed to quiet the column down. Not only that, but the column opened to reveal a small treasure chest.   The wizard called back to Linesse the Thief, who ran over to fetch the treasure.
     Weiss, had climbed some steps leading to an elevated hut, where she though she had heard some sounds, and sure enough when she got level with the door, she could see a large gorilla inside.  She drew her bow, but her footing wasn't good on the crumbling stairway, and her shot went wide.  It did however alert the beast to her presence, and it charged out of the hut at her, and she braced herself and drew her dagger.  She swung bravely at the gorilla, but the beast clubbed her aside the head, and she dropped to the steps unconscious.
     Meanwhile, Leighlyndana, Kodak's apprentice, moved forward where she saw a large snake coiled up in another hut.  She attempted a Mind Control spell, but she had never done one on a reptile before, and she did not do it correctly. The Apprentice was repaid for her failure with a sharp stab of pain in her head.  (-2 health for a casting roll miss greater than 10).  She called out to Edel, who stood nearby; and the Archer ran forward with his bow, stopped, drew the string, and let fly an arrow which hit the snake squarely between the eyes.  It died instantly.
The start is a mixed bag...Kodak attacks the column successfully, and though Leigh's Mind Control spell fails,  Edel kills the snake in the hut with one shot. Weiss, however, is put out of action with but a single blow from the gorilla coming down the steps.  
     Over on Kodak's right, Melilly Ising the Treasure Hunter, Cadwalleter the Thief, Bash the Man-at-Arms, and the Illusionary Soldier, moved to recover a treasure that sat upon a nearby viaduct, and a second treasure atop a nearby tower.  Melilly started climbing the side of one of the viaduct's supports, when out of nowhere a crossbow bolt whistled through the air and hit her square between the shoulders. Her grip immediately released from the side of the viaduct, and she fell.  The Treasure Hunter was dead before she hit the snow below.  Bash and Cadwalleter looked to see where the shot had come from, and could tell it was where Knabe the Druid had entered the city; so it must have been from  his Dwarf Marksman. The two survivors ducked for cover under one of the viaduct's spans, but not before seeing the very treasure that Melilly had been climbing for, sail off under the power of a Teleportation spell towards the nearby tower.
     Over on Kodak's left, Sister Zandkara the Templar, Connisyn Marcus the Treasure Hunter, and Danlin the Marksman moved off to the left to investigate a tall tower that seemed to be one of the sources of  the strange animals. They did not get far when a Rhinoceros charged from behind a ruin towards the Treasure Hunter, stopping just in front of her, it snorted and pawed the ground. Zandkara moved up to help, but the beast charged at her instead. Before the Templar knew what was happening the beast rammed into her and knocked her to the ground, where the world spun and slowly went black.  The new War-hound, Odullorf ran towards the rampaging beast to attack it as well.
The Rhino charges Connisyn, but Zandkara the Templar and Odullorf the War-hound rush to help.
      Kodak then noticed one of Knabe's men across the way, and attempted a Mind Control spell but failed to concentrate correctly and it failed. He pulled his Fate Stone forth to attempt to change the outcome, but the Fates were not with him, and there was no difference in the outcome the second time.   Likewise, Leighlyndana attempted to Mind Control the Gorilla that had taken Weiss out, and she too failed and once again got the stab of pain in her head. (Another -1 damage for failed casting roll greater than 5) Seeing the beast was getting close to Kodak, she rushed towards it to block it's path.  She held her new Magic Staff (+1 Fight) at the ready, but it was no help as the animal swung a mighty arm at her and bashed her hard where her should and neck met.  Her knees suddenly felt wobbly and the ruins spun a little around her, but she shook her still throbbing head, and stood ready for the gorilla's next attack. (She was down to only 2 Health)  Then the Apprentice suddenly saw an opening and swung mightily at the gorilla, striking it squarely in the center of it's chest.  The beast staggered back, and Kodak shouted, "Run, Leigh!".  Barely able to stand, much less run, the Apprentice made her way as best she could to put as much distance as she could between her and the animal.
   Kodak tried to Mind Control the gorilla but failed to correctly execute the spell once again.  So the Illusionist advanced to make contact with the gorilla and keep it from following his wounded Apprentice. The gorilla leaped at the Illusionist and pounded on him with both hairy fists before Kodak could properly defend himself  (-10 Health).  Kodak dropped to one knee with his breath knocked out of him, but rolled with Elven agility to stand again and face the creature.
Leigh rushes to engage the gorilla, before it can go after Kodak.
     Meanwhile, Connisyn and Odullorf had killed the Rhino, but upon searching it for any valuable parts, were unsuccessful.  They now rushed to aid Kodak, as did Danlin.  Leigh quickly did a Heal spell on herself, and she too rushed back to aid Kodak.  But before any of the help could arrive, the beast swung at Kodak again, catching him on the side of the head and making it twist backwards.  The wizard winced in pain (Another -4 Health).  Then Kodak mustered what strength he had left and took a mighty swing of his staff and caught the gorilla square on the head and killed it.  A quick search of the body revealed noting of worth.
Kodak kills the gorilla, as many of his warband rushes to help.  Edel on the right can be seen carrying off the venom sacs from the dead snake.
         Edel had recovered valuable venom sacs from the snake and was making his way through the ruins back towards the Inn, as Kodak and Leigh regrouped and cast Heal spells on each other.  The old illusionist was feeling very dejected; three of his party already laid low, and only two treasures to show for it.  Leigh tried to cheer him, when off in the distance she saw one of the new Necromancer's men suddenly shoot out from the top floor of a distant tower as if pushed by some unseen force (Push spell cast by Knabe the Druid).  The poor man sailed several yards through the air clutching a bundle in  his arms, hovered in place for a brief second, and then plummeted to a wooden gangway between two ruins far below; landing with a loud thud that Leigh thought she could hear even at the long distance where she stood.  The man lie in a crumpled pile on the gangway, the precious bundle unattended beside him on the gangway, with, as far a Leigh could see, no one guarding it.  "Don't despair" she said to Kodak, "I may be able to get us another treasure."  And she spoke the words of the Teleportation spell as she ran in the direction of the distant prize, disappearing in mid-stride.
Leigh's ill-considered Teleport to the gangway. Almost out of view in the distance, near the table edge near the center, Vogel the Druid's Apprentice tries to hit her with a Bone Dart.
     No sooner had she landed at her destination, and shook her head to clear the wooziness she always felt with teleportation, when a Bone Dart from Knabe's far-off apprentice, Vogel, whizzed past her ear.  She thumbed her nose at the fellow Apprentice, and moved forward and picked up the bundle.  Unfortunately, Leigh had misjudged how "unguarded" the package was, as a shot from the Necromancer's Ranger hit her in the thigh; and before she could cry out in pain, another shot, this one from the Necromancer's Marksman, hit her in the shoulder. She collapsed to the gangway dropping the package.
     Kodak waited for as long as he could;  but with no sign of Leigh's return, and the shadows growing longer, with a lump in his throat, he gave the word to head back to the Inn.
     Back at the Inn the mood was somber to say the least.  Word of Melilly's death spread fast.  Cadwalleter told the tale; and also related how the Illusionary Soldier had distracted another gorilla long enough for him to climb the nearby tower; but no sooner had he gotten to the top then the nearby Sigilist's Apprentice had Teleported the treasure off it again. He had become trapped on the tower's top as the Sigilist's and Elementalist's troops had battled each other and various animals right beneath him.
   Zandkara had limped back not long after the others and sat alone in one corner of the great room, her head bowed in prayer, ashamed of her dismal showing the first time she had fought with this new troop.  Likewise, Weiss had come back with a gash in her head and a self-made bandage upon it, and had made her way to the Inn's old counter where she poured herself a large mug of ale and sat at one of the other tables sipping slowly and tending to her bow, lost in thought.
   It was a few nervous hour for Kodak later that Leighlyndana finally made her way back to the Inn.  The girl was Badly Wounded and hardly conscious, as she was still feeling the effects of the fight with the gorilla as well as the loss of blood and muscle damage from the arrow and crossbow bolt that hit her.  It had been a miracle at all that she had made it back, Kodak felt. and he and Bash carried her up to her room and laid her on her bed where Kodak began to tend to her wounds.  "This will need a curing potion beyond my means", he thought to himself. (-100 GC to cure Badly Wounded).
    Later that night, he stared out his room's open window at the stars, wondering what ill alignment had caused such a total breakdown of his and Leigh's magical ability.  He and his Apprentice had failed to cast 5 spells; and not hard ones, but Mind Control which the pair had practiced until they could practically recite it in their sleeps.  The only thing they could manage was simple Heal spells which any school-aged wizard could do. Between the Heal and Leigh's Teleportation, they had only cast five spells successfully. He would need to reflect.
     Kodak was also deeply saddened by the death of Melilly Ising, the Treasure Hunter.  He had sensed that she had lost respect and trust for him after the last trip into the ruins, and he had hoped that he would have been able to heal their relationship.  Now that rift would never be resolved.
   When Kodak came down the next morning, two paltry treasures still sat on the table where they had been set the night before.  There was a Magic Dagger (+1 Damage) in the chest from the column, which he would give to Linesse, as well as 40 Gold Coins.  He inspected the venom sacs, and figured he would be able to get 60 Gold Coins for those.  A very unprofitable foray.
     Once again he thought about whether he was cut out for this life.  The ruins were becoming more dangerous, and more full of powerful enemies.   But he knew there were wonders yet to be discovered, and the call of these possibilities kept him going.  "I will think about leaving Frostgrave another day", he said to himself, and peered out one of the Inn's dusty windows as the sun rose into view.

  Epilogue:  This had to have been one of the worse cases of Cold Dice I have ever experienced.  I rolled less than 10 on the dice more times than I could count.  It also did not help that for the first time in a while, I was set up with players on each side of me as well as across the table from me, and not safely down at one end of the table with only an opponent on one side and across from me as I have been the past several times.
    I mentioned early in the campaign that we as a group had decided to end the campaign when the level total for all the wizards reached 150; well, that time is approaching.  Kodak is now at level 28, and is neck and neck with the Druid, Knabe, for highest level wizard (Actually, after Kodak's dismal outing this game, Knabe may well have passed him in levels).  As a group we were over 100 total going into this game.  However, with the end of the year approaching, we have decided to alter our plan, and now our goal is to make our December game our last, regardless of when we hit 150 (which very well might be the November game) .  That way we will start fresh in the New Year with new wizards and warbands.
   So, Kodak, may be deciding to retire sooner than he (or I) would like.

For Knabe the Druid's account of the battle see: Knabe's Knotes on Game 9

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Frostgrave "Watch"-Tower from Plastic Halloween Skeletal Hand Goblet

While on a trip to the local Giant supermarket, I (as usual) scoped the seasonal aisle for any useful Halloween decorations I could convert to wargaming purposes.  I spotted these plastic goblets being held by skeletal hands, and my imagination was immediately struck by the idea of this giant skeletal hand emerging from the ground... but what could it be holding?
     I posed the question on the Reaper Forum, where I have a thread of all my Frostgrave constructions,  and the idea soon emerged of some sort of tower.  This developed then into the visual pun of a "Watch"-tower that would actually have magical eyes all over it, "keeping watch".
     I found a suitable cardboard tube to use as the ruined tower, and some beads that would do for the eyes.   I glued the beads on, then used some Milliput to make the eyelids.  I also cut two windows in the tower, and made windows from a pair of Dollar Tree "Spirogragh"-like drawing wheels.
     I cut the plastic goblet down to a couple milimeters above the skeletal fingers, and I cut the base off as well.  I then sanded the goblet to rough up the surface, and then cut stonework and a door from thin cardboard and started gluing it to the goblet with Tacky glue.
      For the stonework on the tower, I tried a new method that one of the helpful folks on the Reaper Forum pointed me towards.  I covered sections of the tower with spackle, and then rolled those sections in a box of aqaurium gravel.
     After I pressed it into the gravel, I used a toothpick to move some of the gravel around into more pleasing arrangements where it had clumped up; and added bits where it was thin.   Then after, each section dried, I would move on to the next until the whole tower was covered.
     After that, I glued on the old frame of a roof that I made from bits of mulch, and also added a ruined toothpick floor
     Next, I glued some round plastic bases, and juice lids together to make transition levels from the goblet's diameter to the tower's.
     I detailed the 3" plastic base the tower would sit on with some stonework and a trap door, and added little wire-ring doorpulls to the main door and the trapdoor.
     My next step was to hot-glue the skeletal arm to a CD.
     I also glued the tower to the transition levels, but decided to leave the lower hand portion and the upper level separate for easier storage.  Also, after this photo was taken, I added a bit of foamcore to the CD to break up how flat it looked, then I glued a large washer to it, to help with the top-heaviness of the construction.  I the added rubble to the base including a bit of wall with another eye on it.
    Next, I sprayed it all with flat-black.
     When the spray coat was dry, I painted it using simple drybrush methods.  Below is the finished tower shown with two Reaper figures for scale.

     I'm happy with how this build turned out, though I have to say it is certainly one of the most wacky things I have made! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Frostgrave Campaign Between-Game Update: The Tale of Sister Zandkara

      The Dreams

      Kodak the Illusionist's sleep had become increasingly restless since his last trip into the ruins of Frostgrave.  His waking hours were bad enough, as he still grieved over the loss of his friend, Sister Riessa, on the last expedition into the frozen city; but now his nights were tormented too.  It started as a dream that continued for several nights; he was in the ruins walking through a maze of alleyways and crumbled buildings looking left and right, up and down, always searching.  There were others with him, vague shadowy figures, dressed all the same in red and white, that walked along with him.  Eventually he would come upon the scene of Riessa's dead body again, and there would be the Templar's sword laying in the snow and glowing.  It would slowly rise in the air of its own accord, flat and parallel to the ground and would slowly start spinning like a compass needle.  Faster and faster it would turn until it became a blur; and then suddenly there would be a flash of light, and the Elf wizard would be thrown from his sleep only to find himself laying in his bed, out of breath, in his sweat soaked night clothes.
    For a week it continued, always the same.  Kodak kept it to himself, and assumed it was his guilt and grief working their way through his subconscious.   Surely it would pass he thought, and he tried to busy himself with his daily routine as a way to distract himself.
    Then the night came when the dream changed.  He was again in the city, but this time he no longer searched feverishly though the ruins, but instead he lay on a pile of broken stone unable to move. He was face down, but could crane his neck to each side, and there he saw the shadowy figures again all dressed in red and white.  This time, though, they did not walk among the ruins around him, but instead they too lay on the rocks and crumbled walls  He could see the bodies were broken and at odd angles like so many ragdolls tossed about.  He tried to see more details but the figures were always shadowy to his eyes. Then suddenly the city dissolved around him, and he found himself seated at a table in his Inn.  He could feel himself relax for a moment in the familiar surroundings then his gaze turned downward and upon the table lie Riessa's magic sword, that he had come to call the Sword of the Sisters.  Once again it began to slowly turn like a compass needle, though this time it did not turn any faster.  It spun slowly upon the table until suddenly it stopped and began to glow.  Brighter it glowed  until there was suddenly a flash of light again.  Kodak heard a woman's accented voice call out "Help me!", and again he was pushed awake and lay there taking deep gulps of air.

    The next night the dream happened again; beginning as it did in the city, though this time he was not laying on the stones but was huddled in a dark corner of a ruin.  Had he crawled there?  He could see out the doorway and there were the ragdoll bodies in red and white as he had seen before. His gaze shifted then to his leg, and there was a large wound running across his calf, crudely wrapped in a bloody bandage. His body flinched in surprise at seeing this, and he could feel a sharp pain radiate up into his hip. Then a moment of clarity broke through in is fevered mind, and realized it wasn't his leg; it was too slender and...feminine.  He suddenly could feel himself rise up as if floating in the room, and he realized he could look down and see himself; except it wasn't him, it was a woman...dressed in red and white. He tried to call out to her, but there was a flash, and once again he was seated in the Inn at a table, and there was the Sword of the Sisters upon it. Like before, it slowly began to turn in circles, and then stopped. But this time the Illusionist's mind was clearer and he realized that it hadn't just stopped, but that it had stopped with the tip pointing directly out the door of the Inn and towards the city.  He looked out the door, but again there was the sudden blinding flash, and he heard the accented voice of the same woman as before call out, "By the Light I pray, help me!"
  Kodak was once again shot like a bolt from a crossbow out of his sleep. He sat in his bed trying to recall the events that he had just dreamt.  Still in his nightclothes, he jumped from his bed and rushed to the vault.  He unlocked it, and rushed in to find the sword, still wrapped in Riessa's bloodstained cloak.  He picked it up, and was immediately shocked by the fact that the bundle felt strangely warm under his fingers. Especially considering how chilly that morning was.  He ran back towards the great room of the Inn, and as he went he called out, "Leigh! Leigh!" .  He rushed to the table that the Treasure Hunter, Melilly Ising, had first set the sword upon the night of that fateful day Riessa had been killed. He unwrapped the magic weapon and set it on the table, then carefully folded the cloak and set it on a chair; his eyes never leaving the blade.
     He heard a cough from across the room, and looked up for but a moment to see his Apprentice Leighlyndana, shuffle into the room; her red hair all tangled like a bird nest, and her bedclothes all wrinkled and drooping off one shoulder. She loudly sniffed, and wiped a tattered cuff across her right eye. "Master Kodak, did you call me?", she said with a husky dry voice.
   "Yes!" the old Elf exclaimed, "Come here and look!" and he pointed to the table.  The Apprentice shuffled over and stared somewhat blankly at the table, until she realized that it was Riessa's sword lying there. Her eyes got wide, and she looked up questioningly at Kodak. "Look", he said again, and pointed at the sword.
     They both stared at the sword for several minutes as it lay there motionless on the table. More than once Leighlyndana shot her eyes sideways to look at the old Wizard beside her.  But Kodak's gaze never wavered.  Then, as the sleepy Apprentice covered her mouth to hide a large yawn, her eyes again got wide as she thought she saw the tip of the blade move slightly.  Then there was no doubt, as the whole sword began to slowly spin on it's center point.  "What...?" she said in a hushed voice.
   "The sword is trying to show us something:, Kodak said back in a whisper.
   They watched in silence for a minute more, and then suddenly the sword stopped.  Like in the dream, it was pointing out the door, towards the city.
"I think someone needs our help",  said the Wizard. "And she's in the city."

Part II: The Templar

     She had always heard that when a person is about to die, they relive their life in their thoughts, as a flash of memories.   As Zandkara FeGuar lay there curled up in the corner of the ruin, her mind turned to the house where she was born.
   She came from a small village in the kingdom of Insurikar.  Motherless at an early age and naturally combative, she soon found she had few friends amongst the children her age.  More than one of the village boys who had thought it fun to tease or torment her had gone running home with a black eye or a broken nose.  Her father, Guar, was a simple farmer of parched soil; and his daughter brought him no end of exasperation.  
      As her age advanced so did the level of trouble she found herself in, and by the time she was 12, she had been brought up before the regional magistrate for striking a Captain of the Realm.  Sentenced to a life of servitude in the fabric mills, her father pleaded with the king's official. Only the selling of all his livestock and his wife's few small jewels eventually bought the judge's leniency, and before she was shipped to a fate of unimaginable harsh labor, the sentence was changed to her being committed to a life with the Order of the Lady of the Light; a powerful religious sect with followers and outposts across the known world.
     Zandkara was enraged at her fate; to be locked away in a convent of old hags. Never again to run though the fields of tall harstess grain, or swim in the blue waters of the Obulon.  The priestesses, though, were no strangers to angry young girls who were daughters of the Dark, and their methods had been honed for over 5000 years in how to turn the disobedient towards the Light.  But they also had need for strong arms and willful souls, and though they did not set out to break young Zandkara, they knew exactly how to bend her. By the time she was 15 she had been inducted into the Sisterhood of the Templars of Light, and though just a page to a minor warrior, she was thrilled to be in a world where she was being trained to fight, and her combative nature was admired rather than disciplined.
     How thrilled she had been when after exhaustive years of training and service, she had been presented with her own sword, and assigned her first mission in the name of the Light.  She had done well with that task, and others that followed. Though still young, her name gained some notoriety within the sect.  

       Then, earlier that year, she had been brought before the High Priestess herself and named to be a part of a very important and special mission for her Order.  As she sat in the Council of Light, with the High Priestess, and 11 of her Templar Sisters, she heard a story of a far-off land; in it was a city, Felstad, that was the center of all that was magical in the world, but the city had been lost in time.  A thousand years ago, the Order had commissioned a special banner to be made by the magical artisans of the city, an image of the Lady of the Light infused with magical threads and spells, designed to make all who marched with the symbol almost impervious to death, and unswayable in their devotion. The Order had received word that the banner was completed and had sent emissaries to  retrieve it; but before they could reach Felstad, a mighty cataclysm had struck and the entire city had been lost in a storm of ice and snow beyond measure.  All was buried beneath a mile of white; the city...and the banner.
    Now word had come to the Order that the city was thawing, and it was time for the banner to be retrieved and brought to its rightful home. Zandkara, her eleven warrior Sisters, and one of the Elder Priestesses had travelled many miles through strange lands, and across stranger waters to eventually arrive on the outskirts of the ruined city.  For days they searched the ruins, following clues from old texts written by the original Priestesses who had commissioned the banner.  The city was a haven for Darkness, and they encountered all sorts of vile creatures who had survived in the frozen wasteland.
     Then came the night of the ambush.  As the group settled down in the ruins one starless night, they were set upon by an unstoppable evil.  Men in hoods and skull masks, 30 of them, led by a powerful Necromancer, attacked the Sisters from the shadows. The Templars of Light fought valiantly, but the numbers were against them and the enemy's magic too strong.  One by one the sisters fell to the black blades of the skull-masked men. The Priestess tried to turn the tide, but was brought down by a hail of bone splinters blasted from the Necromancers staff. Zandkara would never forget seeing the Priestesses pierced body laying in the snow, the sightless eyes staring back at the young Templar.  Zandkara herself killed 3 of the skull-masked men, but she was growing weaker.  Under her breath she prayed for strength, and fought on. She came up against a tall broad-shouldered enemy who laughed with wild delight as we swung his sword.  Zandkara's muscles ached. "Lady of Light, give me strength!" She fought the man to a standstill, then suddenly she felt a icy pain in her shoulder and a quick glance showed her there was 3 inches of a jagged sliver of bone sticking from her upper arm. It was icy cold, and she could feel it sucking the strength from her. Her arm was going numb. "Lady of Light, give me strength!" she screamed. Then the black blade of the enemy made first contact; as she lunged forward to strike, the enemy's parry slid off her sword and the edge caught the tip of her nose.  Blood began to run down her face and she tasted the salt.  Then the man's back stroke caught her other arm.  She staggered, and tried to deflect a blow but the black blade went low and sunk deep into her calf. Her leg went out from under her, and she fell to her knees and knelt on the jagged ground.  She spat blood from her mouth and tried to stay conscious. "Lady of Light, give me strength!" The skull-masked man drew back with his blade to deliver the killing blow, and shoved the blade forward with all is might.  But confident in his victory, the man's thrust was sloppy and though the black point pierced Zandkara's mail near her heart, it was at enough of an angle that the chain links torqued the blade to a point that it did not go directly into her chest, but instead slid along her left breast, cutting a deep gash, and then lodged in the chainmail folds under her arm. With the force of his withdrawing the blade, the Templar was pulled forward and fell face down on a patch of slushy snow. She could hear sobbing and shouts in the distance, then they faded gently away as darkness overtook her mind.
Part III: The Lost One Found

     Kodak rushed forward across the ruins; the rest of the party following behind, eyes scanning the surroundings, ever watchful for danger.  As the old Elf had done since they set out earlier that morning, every dozen yards or so, the Illusionist would take the Sword of the Sisters and lay it on some flat surface, and stare at it intently.  Then as he gazed at the sword it would again slowly start to spin, until it would abruptly stop  pointing deeper into the ruins.  The Illusionist would grab the sword and go bounding off in the new direction.

      The wizard rounded a corner and didn't need the sword to tell him he was close to where the magic blade was taking him.  He stopped mid-stride and stared.  Before him was the scene of a battle; there were bodies strewn about a ruin-filled courtyard, and instantly Kodak recognized the red and white clothing he had seen in his dream.  The rest of the Illusionist's warband caught up with him, and they all slowly made their way amongst the carnage.  Conspicuously absent was the bodies of any opponents.  It was just the figures dressed in red and white, and as Kodak looked more closely he could tell they were all women, foreign women for that mater of a dark complexion.    It was also evident to the group, that the battle had happened at least a couple days ago; for the creatures that feed on human flesh had visited the location before Kodak and his party.  Many of the bodies had been chewed upon some half eaten away. It was not a sight for the feint of heart, and Leighlyndana, had to sit down on a broken wall, and faced away; tears streamed down her face.
      Bash, the Man-at-Arms, said huskily, "There are no weapons, Wizard.  And very little of the armor is left that isn't damaged or broken."
      He was right.  Kodak could see anything of value had been taken.  But the normal inhabitants of these ruins, the undead and the wild things, didn't usually loot bodies as well as feed upon them.   Kodak set the sword down on a piece of broken chimney and knelt to look more closely at a young girl laying on the shattered remains of a fallen wall.  her right arm had been chewed away, and her red and white garments were shredded and blood soaked.  Her lifeless eyes, gazed towards the overcast sky. Kodak tried to put the pieces of the scene together in his mind to figure out what had happened.
     His thoughts were disturbed, by the Treasure Hunter, Melilly Ising, "Sir," she said deliberately.  The sword."
    Sure enough, as Kodak's gaze shifted back to the sword, he could see that it wasn't spinning, but surely it had turned itself in a different direction than the way he had set it down.  The surprising thing to the band standing there in the ruins, all now staring at the sword, was that the blade was pulsing now with an internal light, like there was liquid flame within the metal itself; slow and rhythmic like the sword's very heart was beating.  The Elf wizard thought he could even hear it's beating; yes, like a Human or Elven heart he thought, but much a heart that is fading...
    The old Illusionist looked from the sword towards where the tip was pointing.  In the distance, about 25 yards away, was a series of what had been low one story building all adjoined together; like they once had been market stalls or small workshops.  Now mostly reduced to little more than a few crumbling walls. One however still held part of it's roof, rising from the back wall and sheltering nothing but piles of broken stonework.
   Kodak strode off towards the building, the rest following a few paces behind.  He got to what had been the doorway and scanned the ruin.  There was not much to see, mostly piles of stones from the broken walls, a pile of rags in one corner, and pieces of the fallen part of the roof.
  The Elf looked back towards the sword, and then back to where he stood; making sure he had followed its bearing correctly.  Surprisingly, even at this distance he thought he could hear the sword's slow beating heart.  Then suddenly the pile of rags in the corner emitted a short quiet groan, and Kodak knew it wasn't the sword's heart he was hearing.
     Leighlyndana was the first to reach the pile of rags, and she knelt down and began to pull pieces of fabric away, until she let out a gasp.  "It's a person!" she said in hushed amazement.  She worked more quickly to uncover the body lying there, then added "A woman!" 
   Bash knelt down beside the Apprentice, and surveyed what could be seen of the woman's face and the bloody remnants of her clothing. The burly warrior pulled his glove off with his teeth, and reached his hand out and placed it down under the scarf around the girl's neck and pressed his fingers against the cold flesh.  He looked back at Kodak, "She's near death and half frozen, Wizard."  He pulled his hand away, and it was then that he realized that the scarf was red, and the cloth clinging to her shoulders had once been white.  "She's one of them," he added; and tilted his head towards the scene of carnage out in the courtyard beyond.
    It was Leighlyndana who regained herself first and began chanting the words of a Healing spell. The woman's eyes flickered half open, and upon seeing Leigh's face staring back at her, the eyes widened.
"What is your name?' the Apprentice asked.
   The girl coughed,  and through blood caked and parched lips, she said hoarsely, "Zandkara."


     By the time they got Zandkara back to the Inn she was a bit more alert.  She had been given food and water on the trip. And Kodak had done a Healing spell on her as well.  They built up the fire in the Inn's massive fireplace, and sat the young Templar down in a chair by it's heat.  All the Healing spells in the world couldn't shake the bone-deep chill you have after a single night in the frozen ruins, and Zandkara had been there for two.  The old Illusionist had dressed the Bone Dart wound in her arm as well, though a magical injury like that takes weeks to heal; and sometimes the injury never does go away completely. The Elf Wizard and his band pulled up chairs around the hearth as well, and they all waited to hear the strange foreigner's tale.

    Zandkara related her story, though the last couple days were a bit hazy to her.  Kodak could tell she was a brave fighter and had spirit and will to spare.  Despite her injuries and the loss of all her companions, as well as most of her armor and her sword, she still vowed to carry on the quest she had been assigned.  And the Elf could see a fire burn deep in her brown eyes when she also vowed to find and repay the masked and hooded men who had slaughtered her Sisters. 

    A few days later Zandkara sat in prayer in a corner of the Inn where a beam of sun streamed in and across the dusty floor, bathing the Templar in a warm glow.  Kodak sat across the room waiting patiently for her to finish.  The Templar finally stood up, and the old Elf could see there were still unhealed wounds by the slow and deliberate movement the woman from Insurikar used to get up off the floor.
     He beckoned to her from across the room, and she walked over to join him. Kodak gestured for her to sit down. "I'd like to offer you a place in my group here", he proposed.  "It's foolish for you to think you can continue by yourself, alone. And with us, you will have the opportunity to search the ruins on a regular basis, as well as hunt those whom you seek, in the company of a group of trained soldiers and explorers." 
   "I will need to consider this", the Insurikarian replied meekly, adding, "It is a very generous offer."
   "One more thing, " Kodak continued, and reached down by his side and placed the Sword of the Sisters up upon the table where they sat.   Zandkara's eyes widened.  "It sought you out; saved you in fact, " Kodak added. "And like you, it seeks vengeance.  The two of you are...much alike. I think you should have this"  
     The Templar reached out and grasped the sword. The grip felt warm to her touch and a tingle went through her body.  Kodak looked on, and was not certain, but he thought he could see that same liquid light within the sword's blade, pulsing rapidly with the woman's own heartbeat. Perhaps it was just the reflected sun that was streaming in the windows. Slowly, Zandkara stood, and taking the sword firmly in both hands she swung it in slow wide arcs around her head.  She could feel the power the sword contained, and it's own need for vengance.
    Smiling, for the first time that Kodak had seen, she said, still swinging the sword in deliberate and practiced arcs, "They say, 'A man may have many brothers at home, but his true brother...or to be found out in the world.'  I think I have found my true sister.  For that I am grateful.  She stopped swinging the blade, and held the sword upright directly in front of her face, staring at her own reflection in the polished metal.  "I will accept your offer."

   Author's note:  On the Frostgrave Magic Items table (pg. 63), the item for a roll of 20 on a d20 is: "Banner of Courage".  If at anytime I roll this result in the curse of normal game play, The Banner of the Order of the Lady of Light will have been found, and that part of Zandkara's quest will be complete.  She will need to decide at that point, if it ever comes, whether to leave Kodak and his group to return the banner to her home, or stay to complete her quest of vengeance.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

BARRAGE 2016 Report: The HAWKs' 2-Day Wargame Con

    My wargame club, the HAWK's , took a big step this year, and decided to increase their usual single-day gaming event, BARRAGE, to a 2-day event this year.  With about double the upfront cost, we hoped that, to paraphrase the famous movie line; "if we built it, they would come".  As it turned out, we were not disappointed; because by all indications we had a near record crowd!
     Here's a photo report of the weekend.  We want to thank all he gamers and gamemasters who came out and took part, making it the great success that it was!
A view of the main hall on Friday afternoon.

I ran two sessions of Frostgrave on Friday.  This was the first one, that afternoon.  We had six different wizards battling it out in the frozen city.

A view of the large three way battle that raged around the viaduct during the first game.  In the end we had a tie for winner, with two of the wizards scoring 240 experience points.

This was a view of the second Frostgrave game I ran Friday evening.  Once again I had 6 wizards vying for treasure and glory.

A view of the game-long battle aboard the ship hulk between the Enchanter's forces and the Chronomancer's.  In this game the victor managed to score 300 experience points.

Here is a view of the main hall Saturday morning.

A shot of Buck Surdu's Combat Patrol game on Saturday morning.

One of the initiatives this year was to schedule a bunch of kids games, and encourage kid attendees. Here is a look at Chris Johnson's Kid's ACW game, No Retreat, No Surrender.  

Another one of the Kid's Games being run Saturday was Peter Schweighofer's Valley of the Ape game.

    A perennial favorite of the crowd, a hit with both young and old, is Rich Heffner's Aerodrome 1.1 games.
We also had well attended Flames of War Tournaments running both Friday and Saturday.

A shot of Ed Watts' The Yellow Submarine Caper game

A new addition this year was Gamemaster Emril Genscher who ran short 1 to 2 hour tabletop games for folks who had a little time to kill between their miniatures events. 

We also had a well-attended L'Art De La Guerre tournament on Saturday.

Another annual tradition that has become a big part of BARRAGE is the Saturday night pizza dinner.

Philip Gardocki's Battle of Pelennor Fields game was a beautiful spectacle to see.

A shot of Rebels battling Imperial Stormtroopers in Greg Priebe's Star Wars game using modified Combat Patrol rules.

Then after the con was over it was time for the club's annual late-night Pirate LARP using modified Blood & Swash rules.  

A shot of the LARP in mid-action.  The goal was to get a treasure chest full of gold-foil chocolate coins out of the doors of the convention hall.  Much hilarity and good times were had by all!  In the end, my wife Jennifer won and will be the reigning Pirate Queen for the coming year. 
For a whole Flickr album of photos taken by Buck and Candy Surdu, please see: BARRAGE ALBUM

 See you all at BARRAGE 2017!