Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ghost Archipelago Test Game

     After the final game of our 2017 Frostgrave Campaign, which we played back on December 9th, (See report here: The Final Expedition), we ran a test game of Ghost Archipelago to get a feel for how those rules play.   Out plan is to base our 2018 Campaign on Ghost Archipelago.
     We had 4 players take part in the test game, and we used a 6' x 3' table.  For our Heritors  we rolled their abilities randomly, but we picked our Wardens and which spells they had.
A view of the table.  My set up position was on the lower left, beteen the large stump and the big skull rock. 
     I used the warband I plan to use for the actual campaign.  My Heritor had Daze as his primary ability, and then Evade, Stand Firm, Surge, and Disarm.   I chose a Vine Warden, and gave her Brambles, Plant Walk, Warp Weapon, and Summon Animal. The Specialists on my crew consisted of: a Hunter, Pearl Diver, and 2 Archers.  The 4 regular crew had one with a hand weapon, and three with a 2-handed weapon.
My initial deployment.  On the left is my Warden,  Pearl Diver, Archer and Crewman.  On the right is my Heritor, Hunter, Archer, and Crewman.  In the center is the two remaining Crewmen 
     On the first turn, everybody basically advanced.   My Hunter along with an Archer and a Crewman headed off to gather a treasure by a gargoyle statue, just passed a large stump on my left; while most of the rest of the team forged ahead to cross a shallow water river to our front.  On the far side was an ancient temple that had the central treasure on the near corner of it's second tier.  My Warden moved to the edge of the river and cast Brambles to block the way of an enemy soldier  from easily getting to a treasure located under a ruined archway off to my left.
My opening moves.  Near the upper left corner can be see the Hunter, Archer, and Crewman going for the treasure by the gargoyle statue.  The central treasure  can be seen on the second level of the temple near the right edge of the photo.
         On turn two, 2 Giant Bees emerged near my rear area, from the giant stump, as a result of someone picking up a treasure and making the roll for a random encounter.  Their loud buzzing alerted my Hunter and Archer, who fell back from helping recover the treasure to shoot at them.  My Hunter killed one of them with a single shot, but in the Creature Phase, the second attacked my Hunter and did damage, causing the Hunter to become poisoned.  This meant she would only get one activation per turn for the rest of the game.  The Crewman recovered the treasure.  My Warden cast Summon Animal, and attracted a Snapping Turtle on the far side of the river along the right table edge.
Giant Bee attack! 
     The rest of the crew reached the far side of the river, while the Pearl Diver who crossed fastest due to his Amphibious trait, headed down the bank on the right to a treasure near a frog statue.
Midway through the battle.
     On turn 3 I just started contacting the enemy on the temple, and both sides jockeyed for position.  My Warden on the far bank cast Warp Weapon on one of the enemy figures.  My Hunter and the Archer dispatched the last bee.   The Pearl Diver reached the treasure, but was in danger of being overtaken by an enemy soldier.  Luckily, the Snapping Turtle my Warden had summoned, moved in and was able to engage the opponent.
My Warden keeps in the shadows while offering her support.
On Turn 4, My Heritor tried to Daze an opponent who had moved into contact during the enemy's activation, but the enemy passed his Will roll.  That didn't deter my Heritor though as he then dispatched the enemy anyway by rolling a 20.  Feeling momentum from the kill, he used his Surge ability to charge against the nearby enemy Tomb Raider; but the Tomb Raider won the attack, damaging my Heritor.   My Warden tried to Warp Weapon on the Tomb Raider, but failed.
The Pearl Diver swam back over the river, while the Turtle munched on the enemy soldier.  My second Archer provided covering fire from the friendly side of the river.
The Pearl Diver falls back with his treasure. In the background on the right, the Snapping Turtle (proxied by an Ice Toad!) attacks an enemy.
    Turn 5 was the height of the battle, with 3 of my crew and Heritor on the ancient temple.  Unfortunately, I was outnumbered, and quickly started loosing folks, especially from the enemy Heritor.  My Warden tried to cast Brambles to hinder enemy movement on the temple, but she failed.
The fight on the temple.
  By Turn 6, all three of the crew on the temple had fallen, and my Heritor realized his chances at the main treasure were gone, so, badly wounded, he extracted himself from the fight using his Evade ability, and headed back over the river under cover of his archers.   The Warden cast Warp Weapon, one last time, on another enemy.
End results.
     In the end I had two of the basic treasures,  and three of my basic crew had fallen.  My Warden had successful cast 4 spells.  My Heritor had killed one opponent.  
     We all really enjoyed the game.  It definitely has a distinctly different feel from Frostgrave, being much more combat centered.  Using your Heritor effectively is going to take a bit of a learning curve, as I can see that just tossing him into battle isn't going to work.  You really need to think about how you use his abilities.   After the game we decided that for the actual campaign we will allow the players to select one Heritor ability f their choosing, but they will have to roll randomly for the rest.  
     I think I'm going to keep my warband as it is.  The only change I'm going to make is to replace my Warden's non-branch spell of Summoning Animal to Water of Life.  While the ability to call that Snapping Turtle definitely helped me secure the second treasure;  I saw the enemy's Warden constantly healing their Heritor; and while mine had to limp off the table at less than half health, by game's end my opponent had healed theirs back to full health.    I think  that ability will be more useful early on in the campaign, and she can always learn Summon Animal later.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 12: Red Sled Down, or, The Last Excursion

   On Saturday December 9th, we got together for our Frostgrave Christmas Party and the last game of this past year's campaign.    Sadly, only 5 our our regulars could make it; but a grand time was had by those who were there!   As we did last year, everyone brought Christmas cookies and other treats, and three small gaming-related presents, of approximately $5 value, to correspond with the three treasure tokens they would place on the table.
A view of the table at the start of the game.
   The scenario we did we called Red Sled Down, and featured Santa's Sleigh crashing over Frostgrave on Christmas Eve, scattering present across the city.  Also, Santa and Mrs Claus had survived the crash, and are stranded on two towers in the city.  To add a little more challenge to the mix, we also added two teams of 6 goblins (we used Thug stats) who were trying to gather up the presents/treasures for themselves.  They were ruled to move towards the closest unclaimed treasures first, and if there were no unclaimed ones, then they would try to get claimed ones.  At game's end, however many treasures a player recovered (not counting Reveal Secret treasures,) was the number of gifts that player could select from the gift pile.
Loot!  The present pile for the treasure-based gift exchange.
    Just for fun, I also created a half dozen special treasure tokens based on iconic props from the classic Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story".  You can see most of them here: Christmas Story Treasure. I also did a pair of pink bunny slippers and a cooked turkey.  In addition to these, I made a small piece of scatter terrain that was a zombie with his tongue stuck to a frozen flag pole, just like in the famous Ttriple-Dog-Dare scene from the movie.
      I got first choice on set up position, so I took a corner by a large square ruin, and a large bronze statue of a female warrior.  In the distance was a ruined tower complex, and a large monument to a vampire lord.  Across from me was Alfred the Unready, an Elementalist,  and his odd Duckmen; and to my left was Gru the Soothsayer and his strange yellow minion creatures.  Diagonally across from me, on the left, was Bemis with whom I didn't really deal with during the game, (though he did help out with a much needed Fog Wall at one point!)
   For an account of last month's game see: The Final Battle
A Christmas Story based terrain piece: a poor zombie who was triple-dog-dared to put his tongue on a Frozen flagpole! :) 
The Report

     Quail sat at the big table in the main hall sipping her tea.  She looked around at the walls and ceiling of the old tower, musing over who had built it and originally occupied it.  It had been a good home to them this past year.   So many memories...  She would be sad to move out of it.  But the fact was, her year of leave from the University was over, and they would soon be starting the long trip back.  Already many of her belongings and artifacts from the trip, as well as those of her Apprentice Bailisette, and the old Knight, Sir Cardidil, who had acted as their escort for the trip, were piled in cases and trunks along one wall inside the tower's entryway; waiting for Sir Cardidil to come back from town with the horse and wagon they had hired.  In fact he was due any minute.
  The Sigilist didn't have to wonder about the Knight's whereabouts for long, for only minutes later he came bursting through the door of the main hall.  He had been such a good and loyal companion this past year; where would they have been without his combat knowledge and field skills to help them through the first few months.
     Seeing the wizard sitting at the table, Sir C. stopped short, and  exclaimed, "My Lady; there's news!";  and he proceeded to relate the tale he had heard at the inn while he had been in town fetching the horse and wagon.  Apparently, some folks had spotted a strange sight in the sky the night before: a large red sleigh pulled by strange deer-like creatures, flying through the air.  It appeared to be in some distress, as it's flight was very irregular; up and down and side to side; nearly tipping over at some points.  It was last seen heading into the old city, where there were reports that it crashed; sending its odd cargo of fancily wrapped boxes all over a mile or more of the ruins.  "So, some of the wizards are preparing to go see what's what, and I thought you might want to be a part of that." the old Knight concluded.
     Quail thought about the situation for a moment; surely they could delay their departure for a few hours.  Everyone was still here in the tower, it wouldn't take too long to get the group together.  The wizard couldn't resist one more chance to venture into Frostgrave. "Go get the party ready." the Sigilist said to the Knight, "I'll go tell Bailey to prepare".  Quail realized there would be no time to prepare potions; and their potion making equipment was already packed up anyway. (Both casters fail their pre-game Brew Potion rolls.)
The disposition of treasure in the area where Quail entered the table.
   As the group moved through the outskirts of Feldstad, towards the location the mysterious flying sled had last been seen, Quail remarked, "I think I know this area." Bailey, her Apprentice, looked at her questioningly, and the Sigilist continued, "Yes, I've been reading more of the Magical Atlas of Feldstad this past week, seeing what magical wonders we may have missed in our time here, and it seems to me there was a power Enchanter that lived near this area...see that ruined tower over there, and that statue of the warrior there... and he kept his cache of grimoires hidden in a niche in a stone wall near his house.  In case of thieves breaking into his dwelling. We'll have to check it out."  (Quail casts Reveal Secret pre-game.)
     They had not gone much further when a few strange sights caught there eye.  First on a high part of a tower not far away, directly to their front, there was a distressed looking woman, all dressed in red, huddled and looking quite cold and scared.    Also, to their left, they heard the chattering of a group of Snow Goblins, who appeared to be putting a large package on to a sledge. Quail realized it must be one of the scattered boxes Sir Cardidil had told her about.   The group also noticed a few other large boxes scattered about, all wrapped up in shiny metallic paper.  They all pondered what could be in them.  
     Quail quickly divided up the party; this would be easy she thought.   She moved off to the left with Luc Demic the Marksman, Sir Cardidil, and Dorchesman the Treasure Hunter.  She instructed Bailey to go investigate the right with Sallisee the Ranger, and Innis Flynn and Kinny the other Treasure Hunters.  And the Sigilist pointed out a sturdy cut-stone wall a short ways off that might hold the Enchanter's horde of Grimoires.  Barc the Man-at-Arms, Clol the Barbarian, and Cirvid the Warhound were kept nearby, and told to help out where ever they could be most useful
Quail's starting position.  Quail with Sir Cardidil, Luc Demic, and Dorchesman.  Bailey with Salisee, Innis Flin, and Kinny.  Clol, Barc, and Cirvid in reserve.  
         Quail quickly became aware of the nearby gibbering of those fiendish yellow creatures belonging to the Soothsayer Gru; and in the distance she caught the echo of the odd quacking language of Alfred the Unready's Duckmen.  Her immediate concern was the Goblins though.  "I'll be having that," she said under her breath as she focused a Telekinesis spell on the box sitting on the Goblin sledge.  It immediately raised up in the air, much to the shock of the Goblins, and came drifting towards the Sigilist.   With at least two other wizards in the area, she had to be carefully which direction she moved the package, so it wouldn't be seen by anyone else; and making a hasty decision, she moved it off to her left behind two walls, rather than bring it directly towards her.
     Bailey, spotted another package in an archway of the distant ruined tower, and she too cast Telekinesis, moving the package directly towards the warband.  Quail noticed, and smiled to herself, thinking how her Apprentice had learned to use so much of her own initiative since they had been in the city; the Sigilist no longer needed her to tell her everything to do on these excursions.  
A trio of Ghouls enters between Quail's and Gru's warbands, near the square ruined building, on the first turn. 
      The rest of the party advanced.  Kinny was instructed to go over to check for the Grimoires in the wall, and Innis noticed something shiny in a nearby well and moved up to investigate.  Barc observed some movement behind the group, and called out a warning as three ghouls came shambling up near the ruined square building they had just passed. (Random treasure-activated Bestiary appearance.)   The Man-at-Arms tightened his grip on his spear and went running in their direction, trying to stay out of their view in hopes that they might just wander off.  Back at the sledge, the Goblins were quick to recover from the shock of seeing their prize fly away, and two of them went running after it.  The other two, taking notice of the package Bailey had moved, went running after this new target.
     Once again Quail mustered up a Telekinesis spell and move the box a little further away from the pursuing Goblins.  Unfortunately now, the Goblins weren't her only problem, as members of Gru's warband approached the square ruin from the far side.  She noticed that there appeared to be a treasure also hidden within it's ruined rooms as well.   Bailey duplicated her mistresses' efforts, and she continued using Telekinesis on the same package she had done so on earlier, even with the two Goblins in hot pursuit. 
Opening moves.  The party enters, and the Spell Casters use Telekinesis on the two treasures.  The Goblins chase after them. Gru's warband can be seen forming up along the wall on Quails left, at the top left of the photo.  Alfred the Unready's warband can bee seen entering the ruined tower in the upper right of the photo.  They were the ones to rescue Mrs Claus off the tower by using a Leap spell on her.
      Sir Cardidil ran forward to deal with the pesky Goblins chasing Bailey's box, and Quail directed Clol to run forward and grab the newly discovered package in the square ruins.  Luc Demic helped clear a Goblin away from the package Quail was moving with a well aimed shot from his crossbow.  The Sigilist also had noticed members of Alfred the Unready's warband getting nearer, including his large bear companion, and send Cirvid the Warhound to stand guard in a narrow gap between part of a ruined tower and a low wall.
       And then, suddenly, several of Gru's soldiers were upon them.  Clol found himself battling two of them before he had a chance to pick up the treasure in the ruin.  Likewise, the Goblin pursuing the treasure Quail had been moving was soon a victim to the Soothsayer's minions as well.
Clol goes to get the treasure in the square ruin, as Sir Cardidil goes after two of the Goblins, and Cirvid the Warhound moves up to guard the gap leading to Alfred the Unready's warband.  Barc moves back to keep an eye on the Ghouls. (center left of photo).  In the lower right, Innis is getting the treasure in the ruined well. 
      The Siglist was quickly finding herself flanked on two sides.  Memories of the distaster at the river, shortly after she had arrived in the Frostgrave, flashed in the back of her mind.   There too, she had found herself squeezed between two warbands, and the results had not been good.  She quickly tried to cast Awareness, but  rushed the spell and was rewarded with a stab of pain behind her eyes (-1 HP).  Bailey, meanwhile, saw what was going on in the square ruin, and used Telekinesis to move the package out of the middle of the battle between Gru's troops and Clol.  Dorchesman, the Treasure Hunter, was now next to the package Bailey had been moving earlier, so he picked it up and turned to head back to the tower.  Likewise, Kinny had found one surviving Grimoire from the Enchanter's cache in the wall, as well as some gold coins; and Innis had retrieved a package from the well.  Both had secured their treasures and were heading away from the area.  The Goblins seeing all the packages slipping out of their grasps, pursued the one yet unclaimed one; which was the one Bailey had just moved out of the square ruin.  This sent the Goblins right into the middle of Quails' warband.
  Back behind the group, Barc easily dealt with one of the marauding Ghouls, and Sally put an arrow through a second.  The third had apparently wandered off towards Gru's area. Cirvid braced himself and prepared to battle the Elementalist's Bear, but was shocked to see a rogue Rangifer come lumbering up and charge the big beast. (Random treasure-activated Bestiary appearance.)
     Quail then became aware of members of Gru's force moving to the left of the square ruin trying to cut her party off from behind.    Quickly, she ran back to see what she could do, and cast a wall of Fog by the back of the ruin to block any missile troops. Bailey also became aware of what was happening, and realized that getting the treasure they had recovered back to base quickly was becoming a high priority.  She turned and tried to use a Push spell on Innis to help get him back to the tower faster, but the spell fizzled and the Treasure Hunter felt nothing more than a strong breeze blow by him.
Quail is brought down by a crossbow, as the present-chasing Goblins are encircled. Behind the group, Bailey faces the Elementalist's  Bear (being proxied by a gorilla figure).
    Clol had moved out of the ruin and after the treasure Bailey had moved, and he, Sir Cardidil, and Barc, now moved into deal with the Goblins who threatened to take the last unclaimed prize.   Quail felt confident that they could handle the Goblins, so turned to give her fog wall a quick glance to make sure no one was coming through.  She was horrified to see it suddenly vaporizing into misty tendrils while she looked at it. (Gru's Apprentice uses Dispel Magic).  As the last wisps of vapor drifted in the cold air, the Siglist suddenly realized she was looking directly at a Marksman with a crossbow a short distance past where the Fog wall had been. She then heard the distinctive sharp sound of the weapon being fired, and was immediately aware of piercing pain in her side.  Then the ruins around her spun into a whirl of grey and white, and her world went black.
      Bailey saw Quail go down, and let out a loud cry of dismay.   Her exclamation was cut short though by an even louder sound; a growl that was very close by, and the Apprentice turned to see Alfred the Unready's bear just feet away.  Bailey had only seconds to raise her weapon to defend herself from the beast's giant claw-studded paws.   Then there was once again the distinctive twang of a crossbow, and  Barc was brought down by one of  Gru's Marksmen.
     Behind her, Bailey heard a strange soft sizzle sound like water on a hot stove, and before her mind could register what it was, there was a large eruption just a few yards away.  The Apprentice turned from fighting the bear and watched in horror as the ground erupted in a flash of blue electric light, right in the middle of the battle between the Goblins, Barc, and Clol. She and the bear were covered in icy particles, dirt, and masonry.  As she spat grit from her mouth she looked in horror to see Sir Cardidil was down, and unmoving; his tabard smoked a little as if charred by unseen flame.   Clol and Barc, however seemed to be unharmed, as did the Goblins; though they all stood there blinking and dazed, covered in snow and dust.  (Alfred the Unready cast Elemental Ball.)
Barc is already down from a crossbow bolt, as the first Elemental Ball explodes.
     No one had any time to recover though before there was another slight sound of sizzling, and the ground erupted once again in blue electric light, in almost the exact same spot (The Elementalist's Apprentice also casts Elemental Ball). This time Barc,  one of the Goblins, and Luc Demic, who was standing just a bit too close,  were all done and unmoving on the ground.  Bailey froze at the sight of all the bodies in the snow; one piled on top of another. Her mind went numb, and then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye, and a split second too late, remembered the Bear.  As the Apprentice turned, she had a glance of a paw twice as big as her head inches form her face, and felt the hard impact, and the claws scrape painfully along the side of her head. She felt the ground heave her body spin as if floating in air, and the grey daylight turned to night.
    Sally suddenly found herself all alone in the ruins.  She fired at the Elementalist, but missed. Turning, she was faced with two of Gru's soldiers. Sensing the inevitable, she bravely tried to defend herself, but was quickly sent to join the rest of the warband lying in the blood-soaked snow.
Carnage everywhere.  Gru's minions move in as Sally is the last soldier standing...though not for long.  At the very top of the photo, just right of center, the Elementalist's Apprentice, and one of his Duckmen can be seen.
     Back in  the tower, the three Treasure Hunters, and Cirvid, waited, and paced, and glanced nervously at each other; and as the hour grew later and no one else had returned, they came to the conclusion that they needed to return to the city to find out what happened before darkness set in.   They were shocked at the scene of destruction they discovered.  Clol, battered and bloody knelt by Barc, tending the crossbow bolt wound above his right hip.  Bailey, blood covering the side of her head where the bear's claws had slashed her,  was casting a Heal spell as she stood over Sally.  The Ranger sat leaned up against a low wall; a makeshift bandage around her shoulder.   Luc was sitting propped against the wall of the square ruin, trying to figure out how to stand with one bloody leg splinted with a bit of scrounged timber and some torn cloth.   In the middle of them all was Quail, crying soft tears as she sat next to Sir Cardidil, who still lay unmoving in the snow.   She held his lifeless hand in hers, as she rocked back and forth, and spoke silent words to him.
   One by one they helped each other back to the tower.  Quail was the last to leave the city.  The Maga Librarian sat with her brave knight until her legs were frozen and she could hardly stand.   Clol came, and with more care than you would expect from the big Barbarian, gently lifted the Knight  as carefully as a newborn baby, and carried him back to the tower.  Bailey came for Quail, and helping her up, the pair leaned on each other as they walked out of city.  Quail stopped them on the outskirts, and as the last rays of the setting sun painted the the sky orange and purple, she  turned to look back at the crumbling towers and  leaning spires of the ancient city.  She felt suddenly very old. The Sigilist sighed deeply, and wiping the last few frozen tears from her face, turned and headed with her Apprentice back to the tower.
The survivors and their three treasure.
     They slowly healed.  And one by one the soldiers left to seek new adventurers.   Quail had Sir Cardidil buried by the garden in the back of the tower.  A stone monument was placed to mark his final resting spot. The Knight had been a good friend and a faithful companion this past year.  Quail would never forget their time together.
     And Bemis dropped in for a visit a couple days after the last excursion.  Hearing that Quail had been injured in the day's events he wanted to check on his fellow Sigilsit's well-being.   He too was leaving the city.   And as Siglist's always do, they promised to write letters to each other in the years ahead.
     When the time came to head back to the University Library, Quail was filled with a whirl of emotions.  It would be a sad journey without her old friend, Sir Cardidil.  He had made the journey with them to Feldstad a year ago, and it didn't seem right not to have his wise advice and good company on their trip home.  She would miss the excitement of discovery and the companionship of fellow adventurers.   The stuffy meetings of academia would pale in comparison to nights of stories and laughter in the tower.  But she also looked forward to sharing her new-found knowledge, and the familiarity of her old Library.    And, they had defeated a Great Evil while they had been there.  The world would provably never know what might have been if the few brave wizards who had stayed to face the Lich Lord, hadn't had the courage to do so.  But the had stayed, and the world was safer because of it.
     And who knew'; maybe one day in the future she would come visit Sir Cardidil again, and maybe seek a new adventure in the old city.
The seven who fell during the battle: Quail, Bailey, Sir Cariddil, Clol,  Luc Demic, Barc,  Sallisee.

Game Epilogue

   Wow, what a game!  Almost a Total Party Kill, but not quite.  It was brutal to have lived though.  But the good company and festive atmosphere more than made up for the poor game outcome.  All in all a great campaign!
  The final haul for the game was 3 treasures (one of which was the Reveal Secret Treasure) totaling 230 GC, a Grimoire of Enchant Weapon, and Ring of Power +1.   Of the seven members of the warband that fell during the battle: Quail, Bailey, and Clol were all fine; Luc Demic, Barc, and Salllisee were Badly Wounded; and Sir Cardidil was dead.  Interestingly this was the first death the party suffered in the campaign.  How unlike Kodak's campaign where he lost somebody almost every game.
   Bemis was the winner of this years' campaign.  I forget what level he reached, but I'm sure he will report it soon in his write-up.   Quail reached Level 35, and took home a treasury of  1030 Gold Coins.  Not a bat retirement for a professor! :)   She also learned 7 new spells during her time in the city,  beyond her beginning 8 spells she knew when she arrived.
Selecting our "treasure" from the pile!
     After the game we traded in our treasure for gifts form the Present Exchange pile, had some cookies, and celebrated a very fun campaign.  We then set up for a test game of Ghost Archipelago, which will be the rules we will use for next year's campaign.  I will be posting a report from this test game as well, hopefully in the next week or so.  So look for that link here.
    And before signing off for this year, I wanted to say a special thank you to my readers!  I really appreciate the feedback and comments you all have given my through the year.  I hope you enjoyed following Quail and her adventures, as much as I did writing them.  I also hope to see you all for our trip to the Ghost Archipelago next year.  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Some Recent Christmas Themed Painting

    When this time of year rolls around, I always wished I had worked more on the Christmas themed figures I have collected over the years.   So, over the last few weeks, with my seasonal mood increasing, I decided to finish up a few of them.
     First I completed Reaper's "Pack Reindeer", which has been sitting half done on my painting desk since I got him last December. 

      I then painted Coppestone's "Lovely Assistant". This figure comes in a blister with a Santa Claus figure, which I've put on a washer and primed, but haven't gotten to yet.

     Lastly, I just finished Reapers "Santa's Helpers"; a three pack of mechanical robot ornaments.    I tried an experiment with these; painting them first with special Chrome spray paint, and then using Citadel gemstone transparent paints on them: Spiritstone Red, Soulstone Blue, and Waystone Green, in an attempt to given them that lacquered mirror look that real ornaments have.  When finished, I sprayed them with Testor's Dullcote to give them a protective coat, and then went over them again with a brush-on glossy varnish to give them that glass ornament shine.   I'm rather plesed with how they came out.

        This will probably wrap up what Christmas figures I get done for his year; since, with the Christmas activity around the house ramping up, my painting time become more infrequent.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Group of "A Christmas Story" Themed Pieces for Frostgrave

   As I mentioned in my latest Frostgrave Campaign report, for December we plan on doing a Christmas-themed game.  As part of that, I decided to make a few items that were inspired by the movie "A Christmas Story".  The first of these is based on the famous flag-pole double-dog-dare scene, and features an unfortunate citizen of Feldstad who had been dared by his friends into putting his tongue on a frozen metal pole at the time of the icy cataclysm that befell the city, and is now doomed to spend his days as a zombie who is trapped forever in an unfortunate situation. 

      Next up is a set of four treasure markers:  1) A blue bowling ball and can of Simonize, 2) A crate marked  "Fra-gee-lay", 3) A leg lamp, and 4) A Red Ryder BB-gun.   These were a lot of fun to make and took a little thinking outside the box to put together!

       I'm really looking forward to using all these in next month's game!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 11: The Final Battle

     This past Saturday we played the 11th game of this year's Frostgrave Campaign, and the last scenario of the "Thaw of he Lich Lord" supplement book: The Final Battle.    Next month, we will be playing a special Christmas themed scenario, called Red Sled Down, for our annual Frostgrave Game Christmas Party.
     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 Report

     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.
     Then, as suddenly as it started, the sounds and lights stopped.  The dark clouds, and the ice and dust falling from them, began to pull back towards the city as if being sucked towards some central point; like water flowing down a drain.  It was then that Quail first saw it, in the distance:  a great hunk of rock floated in the air just a few dozen yards over the tallest spires of the old city. She estimated it was the size of a full city block.  As the Sigilist peered into the distance, trying to see details, she realized the top of the huge rock was flat, and she  saw ruins up on top of the rock.  It was as if a whole section of the city had been torn up and now sailed in the air. Bailey, her youthful eyes a little better, said in disbelief, "There are chains coming off of it;  holding it to the ground." 
     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, " 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. 
     The climb up the large chain was arduous at best.  Her months in the frozen city had certainly made Quail leaner and more muscular, but she was quite winded when the group finally reached the top.  The Sigilist quickly surveyed the area they had come up in; it looked to be the middle of a mostly ruined building.  She immediately detected they were flanked by two groups of Armored Skeletons  milling about along the edge of the rocky ledge not far off, both to their left and right.  "Fog" she said to Bailey, still huffing and puffing from the climb, and pointed over to their right.  Quail then proceeded to cast a wall of white mist on their left, effectively blocking the skeletons' view of them. Her Apprentice did likewise on the right.
         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.
             Quail and the rest of the warband slowly and hesitantly advanced.  The Sigilist knew they were here to do a job, and they couldn't just wait forever on the edge of the rocky ledge.   Bailey paused to extend her Fog wall with another section of the white mist. She didn't want anymore surprises to see them and come in their direction.   And, she knew Gru the Soothsayer was over there; and even though she knew they all had agreed to be on peaceful terms for this encounter, she didn't trust him and the strange yellow creatures that he used as his minions.   Quail watched as the Lich Lord turned to his right rear now, and fired another Elemental Bolt in that direction.  Bemis' area, she thought.  (Hit Bemis, doing about 8 HP of damage.) 
          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.
     Quail heard her Apprentice's cry, and had to fight every instinct to run to find out what was wrong, but there were eight other people depending on her at that moment.  In the back of her mind the Sigilist told herself over and over, "Bailey has the Crystal Rose, she has the Crystal Rose...", as a way to sooth her anguished thoughts.  She calmed herself enough to cast Telekinesis on a second chest in the Manor House; this one on the grand staircase leading up to the main floor.  But the Wizard's mind was still distracted, and she had to force herself to complete the spell correctly, causing a spasm of pain in her brain. (Pushed for -2 HP)
      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.   
    As the big Barbarian and little Halfling headed up the steps of the manor house, they could see that soldiers from Alfred the Unready's group, as well as Missy the Necromancer's, and Bemis contingent, with Bemis himself,  were also approaching the Lich Lord.  Kinny also spied a couple other treasures upon the floor, not far from where the Lich Lord stood. all the confusion... 
     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.
     Meanwhile, up in the Manor House,  the various groups of soldiers quickly looked at each other, and with no word spoken, charged at the Lich Lord.  Alfred's men hung back, but Missy's Treasure Hunter was first there, brandishing her sword.   Clol charged in next with his magic club held high, and he was soon joined by one of Bemis' Treasure Hunters.  Kinny, unnoticed by the rest, scooted forward and grabbed the treasure directly in front of her.  The Lich Lord, in his weakened state, seemed momentarily confused by all the attackers charging him; and that moment of confusion was his undoing.  Bemis' Captain, Nigel, ran up behind the foul creature, and raising his sword high, brought it down with a furious power.  There was a crack of energy that knocked them all a bit back as the sword cleaved halfway down the Lich Lord's body, nearly splitting him in two. The Lich fell with an agonizing shriek and his body quickly turned to black ash as if he was being consumed by an unseen fire.   (Bemis will surely give the details in his report, but as I remember Nigel went into the attack, with all his Captain benefits, the 4 additional attackers, and his magic weapons, having a +19 Attack.  He then rolled very well. )
     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. 
          Back outside the manor house, Quail once again cast Fog to try and block her people from Gru's soldiers.  She needed this fight to end soon, as she could tell the floating rock was sinking.  Sally finally had an arrow go true and hit another of Gru's Treasure Hunters, killing it.  The rest of Gru's soldiers seemed disinclined to press the issue further, and joined their master in retreating.   Quail, too, gave the fall back call, and raced over to check on Bailey. She ordered Barc to check on Innis.  She reached Bailey and let out a gasp when she saw her there laying in the fog.   She knelt down and was relieved to discover that the Apprentice seemed to still be alive, though barely.  Quail called to Sir Cardidil, one of the few of her warband not wounded,  to help get the girl down.   They all made their way to the chain where they had come up.  Kinny dragging her heavy chest, being the last to descend.
Those who left the battle under their own power, along with their two treasures.
     Back at the their tower base. Quail had Sir Cardidil carry Bailey to her bed.  And Innis was taken to his.  The Sigilist sat on a chair near her Apprentice and tended her wounds with Healing spells and magical ointments.  Bailey's eyes fluttered open, and she looked at Quail with sadness and pain. "I'm sorry", she whispered weakly.
   "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.

Game Epilogue

    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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fall-In Saturday in the HAWKs Room

     I was only able to get up to Fall in for Saturday and Sunday this year, so only have shots of some of the Saturday games we ran in the HAWKs room.  Sunday, I sold in the flea market.   I had a great time at the con, and the crowd and energy seemed at a higher level than I have seen in a while.  All the HAWKs games had players enough to run, even the hard-to-fill Saturday night sessions; and the newly-redesigned Dealers' Hall seemed to be humming with activity when I was there.
    There were very few visible improvements to the Lancaster Host still, other than the Dealer's Hall, and the new white plastic tables everywhere, that replaced the old wooden splinter-and-staple infested ones.  But signs like the absent boiler truck, and no more roof tarps, are indicators steps are being taken in the right direction down a very long road.   On the down side, most of the reports I heard of the food quality were poor; and the water dispenser, moved from the hallway into the HAWKs room itself, never seemed to be refilled after it's initial reserves were exhausted on Friday.  The flea market was humming; and at the Sunday session that I did, every table was filled with a seller, and some folks even had to drag some of the tournament tables over into a new ad-hoc sellers' row to make more space .

   For the report on the linked, 2-part special episode, Doctor Who games Greg Priebe and I ran, please see: Doctor Who and the Pirates of the Cyberiad Main.

  On the the photos!

Eric Schlegel's "Action on the Pratzen" 15mm Napoleonic game using "Le Feu et Fureur" modified Fire and Fury rules. 

Geoff Graff's Lego Pirate game is always a favorite with the kids, using Plastic Pirates rules. 

Rob Dean running his Chaos Wars fantasy game with 25mm figures.

Patrick Byrne's "Hold the Fort" 28mm modern game using Force on Force rules

Kevin and Mike Fischer's "Welcome to the Jungle" 12mm Mobile Suit Gundam game.

Chris Johnson's "Gorilla My Dreams I Need You" 54mm Pulp kids game using Valley of the Ape rules.

A close up of some of Chris' beautiful big figures.

Bill Molyneaux's "Zulu Morning Patrol" game using home rules.

A closer shot of some of Bill's brave British preparing to meet the Zulus.  

Kurt Schlegel's reprisal of the "Action on the Pratzen" scneario, this time using his Fast and Fun Napoleonics rules.

Don Hogge's "All or Nothing" WWII game featuring Greek's vs Italians, and using Battleground WWII rules. 

A close up of some defending Italians in Don's game

Jim McWilliams "Saga of Lower Uncton Continues" game, using SAGA rules. 

A close up of some of the Dark Age forces battling in Jim's game. 
   A big thank you goes out from all the HAWKs Gamemasters to all the great players who came by our room to take part in our games!  We hope to see you all at Cold Wars!