Monday, January 16, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 1: The Eclipse

     This past Saturday we got together to play the first game of our new 2017 Frostgrave Campaign.  This year our goal is to play a game each month and work our way through the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" (TotLL) supplement book.  Since this book only has 10 scenarios in it, we will also be doing two games with scenarios of our own design.
     For those interested in reading my reports from last year's campaign, they start here: Frostgrave 2016.
A view of the table
     We had only 6 of our 8 regular players available for Saturday's game, so we used a 9' x 3' table set-up.  We ran the first scenario from the TotLL book, The Eclipse, which features a limited visibility of 16 inches at the start of the game due to the darkness caused by the impending titular eclipse.  Then each turn visibility reduces until turn 5 when the eclipse has reached its peak.  On that turn there is a surge of magical power, and then visibility starts increasing again each turn.  
     We placed treasure, as well as determined set-up positions and turn order, normally using our numbered-poker-chips-in-a-paper-bag method.  My new Sigilist, Quailelyn, and her Apprentice, Bailisette, started in one corner of one table.  (To read a prologue story about my two magic-users and how they came to journey to Frostgrave, see here: Prologue.)  To their right was the warband of an Elementalist, and across from them was the warband of a Soothsayer named Gru.  Diagonally across from them was another Sigilist, named Bemis.

A view of Quail's starting position, located near the center-right bottom of the photo, near the yellow ruler. 

      But our story begins a little earlier in the day...

     Maga Librarian Quailelyn sat at a table in a crowded tavern in one of the several crossroad villages that had sprung up in the last couple years on the far outskirts of Frostgrave.   Next to her sat the Apprentice Librarian, Bailisette, and across from her sat the knight, Sir Cardidil.  While the two women intently studied an ancient tome opened before them, Sir Cardidil kept a watchful eye on their surroundings.
   "I still can't believe you took one of the atlases from the Library's antiquities section!" Bailisette said to her superior in a hushed voice.
   "That's not all I took, Bailey", Quail said, and she tilted her head to the floor where a large pack sat with obvious book-shaped bulges in it.  "And I prefer the term 'borrowed'.  It is a library book after all; and being the Maga Librarian does come with some privileges I would think."
     The two turned back to study the ancient map on the page opened before them.  "I thought this atlas of Feldstad might come in handy in locating some good areas of the city to search," Quail whispered, "but leave it to a map drawn by wizard cartographers to be almost unintelligible without the right secret key to reading it. (Failed before-game Reveal Secret rolls for both spellcasters) The Sigilist sighed and reached over and closed the large atlas.
    Quailelyn looked up at the knight. "Shouldn't those soldiers you hired be here soon?" she asked.
   "Yes, ma'm," the knight answered. And as he glanced at the sunlit door, he stood up and said, "In fact here they are now."
The group enters the city, as Quail gets a better view from atop a crumbled pillar. Two treasure are located in the ruin to the left, just visible along the top left side of the photo.
        As the Sigilist approached the ruined city, she couldn't help but notice that the day had grown unusually dark for the hour.  She scanned the sky and could see a large object starting to pass before the sun.  "That can't be a good omen," she thought to herself as she listened to the hushed nervous whispers from the warriors behind her.   The Librarian stopped for a moment and turned to the group following her.  She had taught more than one unruly class in her day, so knew a bit about taking charge, but commanding people under dangerous circumstances was new to her.  The key was not to show her own uncertainty.   She pointed to Luc Demic the crossbowman; Clol the thug, and Sir Cardidil, and said in an authoritative manner "Why don't you three come with me."  She then pointed to Sallisee the archer, Dorchesman the thief, and Barc the thug, and said, "And you three go along with Bailisette."  The Maga Librarian then looked at the thieves Kinny and Innis Flin and said to them, " You two stay close, and keep your eyes open."
     Quail then approached some sort of old ruined temple and climbed up on the stump of the collapsed central pillar to get a better view of the immediate area. She quickly noticed two promising looking chests laying in a ruined building over to her left. She gave a hushed call to Bailey and pointed them out to her, and mouthed the word "Telekinesis".  Quailelyn then quietly spoke the Telekinesis spell, and directed her thoughts towards an ancient trunk on the second floor of the ruin, which suddenly shook and then broke free of the ice and snow that held it and began to drift slowly through the air towards her. It went a couple dozen yards or so towards the wizard and then dropped to the snow covered ground.
  Quail jumped down from her perch, and as she did so she glanced up at an old ruined watchtower on the low hill in front of them. It was covered in several old long-forgotten Wizard Eyes, used in ancient times to keep a guard on the city...but did she just see one of them blink? (The wizard Gru successfully cast Wizard Eye onto the tower  from the far side of the hill).  She took a second quick look at the watchtower to make sure she wasn't seeing things,  and after reassuring herself all was normal, she turned to look at Bailisette expectantly.   The Apprentice knew the Maga Librarian's gaze was upon her and she very much wanted to impress her on this first test of her abilities outside of the confines of the university. The young woman stared at the treasure chest sitting on a ruined wooden walkway in the distance and concentrated on the words of the Telekinesis spell.  She spoke the incantation effortlessly, and began to feel very proud of herself; thinking about how well she was doing, she lost her concentration on the spell. She faltered and repeated the same line twice; a searing pain went through her head and she saw flashing white lights. "It must succeed!" she thought to herself; and refocusing on the casting, she gritted her teeth and finished the spell.  Slowly, the rotting chest lifted off its perch and drifted towards her; going a few dozen yards and dropping to the snow.  (Pushed spell for -9 HP damage) Bailey let out a gasp and dropped to her knees, her head swimming, and sweat running down her back.
Quail Telekinetically moves one treasure towards her group (seen on the ground in the ruin on the left), as the rest of her command moves forward to retrieve it.  The second treasure can be seen on the gangway leading from the hill to the ruin. 

     Quail turned from watching the chest float along through the frosty air, to see her Apprentice drop.  As she did, a Bone Dart whizzed passed her cheek from the old watch tower.  She ducked instinctually, her suspicions about the new Wizard's Eye confirmed.  "Wizard's Eye on the tower!",  she shouted to her warband and pointed up to the top of the hill, as she ran over to Bailisette.
   "What did you do, you foolish girl!?" she said with mixed care and anger, as she grabbed the girl's head and peered into her eyes, searching for symptoms.  Her hands went down to the girl's neck to feel the pulse; weak.  Moving her hands to the Apprentice's shoulders, Quail closed her eyes, and began to whisper close to the Apprentice's ear the sing-song chant of a Healing spell.  Bailey could feel the healing tingle inside her, and she could feel the ache in her head subside and the ground beneath her stopped rocking back and forth.
   "Thank you, Ma'am ....I just wanted to show you I could do it." she said with a weak smile.
    Quail put her hands on her hips and eyed the young woman.  "I wouldn't have brought you if I didn't think you could do it, Bailisette." she said firmly yet with a touch of kindness. "Now, please be more careful."
    "Yes, Ma'am"
     While Quail was dealing with her Apprentice's mishap, the thief Innis Flin moved forward and grabbed the treasure Bailey had telekinetically moved.  As fast as possible he moved it back towards their rendezvous point.
Quail moves to Heal Bailey, as Sir Cardidil stands guard, and Innis Flin moves away with the second treasure. Other members of the party can be seen moving off to the right in the upper right corner of the photo.
      Meanwhile, on the flanks trouble was brewing.   Over on the left a wild boar appeared, picking its way through the ruins.  The crossbowman, Luc Demic, noticed it first; and he called to the thug, Clol, and the thief, Kinny, to go see about the treasure that the wizard had telekinetically moved earlier, while he took care of the boar.  He turned, planted his feet, and fired; but his shot missed.  The boar had caught his scent however, and charged.  There wasn't time for the crossbowman to draw his dagger, and  brandishing the crossbow like a club, he laid a solid blow aside the boar's head just as it was upon him.  The wild animal went sprawling across the rubble covered street, dead.  He breathed a sigh of relief and looked over to where Kinny was recovering the first treasure, and gave her and Clol a thumbs up.
Dorchesman fights the other Sigilist's Captain, as the Sigilist's warhound chews on the thief's cape.
      Over on the right, the thief Dorchesman ran towards a bridge over a frozen creek that had a promising bundle lying on it.  Before he could get there he could see that men from the other Sigilist's band were going to get there first.  Realizing he was outnumbered, Dorchesman stopped in his tracks and tipped his hat at the opposing soldiers.  Before he could turn and go though, the other group's Captain came charging across the bridge at him. "I meant no offense!" Dorchesman called out, but onward the Captain came. "So that's how its going to be" he thought to himself, and drawing his dagger he assumed a defensive stance.  As the Captain dove at him, sword raised high, the agile thief dodged and thrust upward with his dagger catching the Captain in his exposed side.  The Captain stumbled backwards, shocked; and Dorchesman took the opportunity to turn and run back towards his own warband.
    While this was going on, Quail was still keeping an eye on the watchtower.  She began to wonder if there might be a treasure up there within it's crumbling walls. She looked up into the dark opening, just barely visible in the fading light, and spoke the words of casting  Teleport. She was a bit rusty on that spell, and forgot a phrase near the end; giving herself a headache and failing to move herself anywhere. (Failed spell by 9, equals -1 HP damage) She looked over at Bailey, who she could tell was still a little shaken from earlier efforts, and asked, "Can you get up there?" as she pointed to the tower.
Bailey balances precariously on the crumbling wall of the ruined watch tower. Luckily, the limited light kept her from being a target for every wizard, archer, and crossbow on the table. 
     Bailey nodded, and began to chant the words of the Teleport spell herself, eager to once again have a chance to show her abilities.   She misjudged her landing point however, and materialized a few feet above the place she had wanted to land, coming down hard on top of the stone wall. Her ankle twisted, and she felt a stab of pain. (Pushed spell for -3 HP damage) Worse, she was off balance and began to feel herself falling forward off the wall, and grabbed desperately at the crumbling stone on each side of her.   After a few tense moments she regained her footing, and despite her throbbing ankle carefully dropped down into the shadows of the tower to look for treasure.
     As the Apprentice stumbled in the darkness of the ruined tower she found what she was looking for; there was an old chest over to one side, covered in debris.  The young Apprentice smiled.  The Maga Librarian would be so pleased.  As she worked to free the chest, a misstep and a stab of pain reminded her of her ankle injury.  She got the chest secured then sat down, and grabbing the injured joint she spoke the words of Healing.  As she spoke the words of the spell,  the moon passed completely in front of the sun, causing almost complete darkness to fall over the ruined city.  Bailey felt a tingling in her fingertips, and a surge of magical energy flowed through her like a shiver running down her spine.
   Back on the city streets below the tower, Sir Cardidil standing guard by her side, Quail felt the same sensation.  She was so overcome by the strange tingling up her fingers and down her spine that she misspoke the incantation of Fog she was attempting and nothing more than a fine mist appeared for a moment and then dissipated.  "Well that was odd," she said to herself, and studied her hands for a moment.
Quail places a wall of Fog in the air by the tower to block the Wizard Eye of the Soothsayer, Gru.  Meanwhile, in the lower left of the photos, Kinny carries off a treasure under the protection of Clol and Luc Demic.
    The Sigilist, however,  didn't have time to think about the strange magical surge for long, as she realized her Apprentice was taking too much time up in the tower.  Quail called to the thug, Barc, to go over and stand guard at the base of the tower,  as she looked up at the structure and saw another cursed Wizard's Eye appear on it and blink as it looked down at her.  She once again attempted casting Fog, successfully this time, to block it's view.  The eclipse was moving now past the sun and while it was getting a little lighter she could see that the sun was lowering in the west.  She surely didn't want to be trapped anywhere near the city when darkness fell.
    Quail turned and saw Kinny was busy carrying off the first treasure chest to their rendezvous point, and as she looked up at the hill and the tower once more,  she saw Bailisette materialize from a Teleport spell right on the edge of the cliff along the hillside.  What was even better was that the Apprentice was carrying a treasure chest.  "Three treasure for a first foray into the city wasn't too bad",  the Librarian thought to herself, "But I think it's time to call it a day."  With that, she gave the signal for the remaining members of her band to make their way to the rendezvous point.
     As they walked back out of the ruins, on the outskirts of the city, they came upon an old abandoned tower sitting tall on a little hill.   Despite it having been ransacked by treasure hunters long ago, there was something about its strong stone walls and arches that reminded Quail of the buildings on the campus of her university.   What's more, looking up at its highest floor, she was pretty sure she would be able to have a very good view of the ruined city from up there, perched as it was upon the small hill; and having a bird's eye view of the city might help her decipher the old magical maps in the Felstad atlas she had brought.
The old abandoned tower on the hill
     "Let us camp here for the night" she said to her party. "With a little fixing up, this tower might be a good base for us to operate from, rather than hiking all the way back to the village every time we venture into the ruins.   And so the group began clearing out the old tower under the supervision of Sir Cardidil, as Quailelyn and her Apprentice sat to inspect the treasure they had recovered.
   The three chests they brought back were found to contain a combined 220 gold coins, as well as a Grimoire of Awareness, and one of Planar Tear.  There was also an ancient tome called "The Book of Bones".  Quail ran her fingers over the cover of the Awareness grimoire; that would be a good spell to know she thought. But she didn't have the time right now to learn it.  As for the other Grimoire, she had little interest for the Summoning arts, but the grimoire might offer her something if she took the time to read it.  
     As far as the "Book of Bones" went, she had a great distain for the study of Necromancy so had little interest in that dusty tome.  She did however know, through her dealings at the university library,  a dealer in ancient magical texts that might be interested in such a book.   And,  he might be willing to trade it for what she really wanted: a crystal magical magnifying glass which would help her to better see and interpret the magical maps in the old Felstad atlas. (Sell "Book of Bones" for 250 GC, and buy Crystal Ball for 250 GC).
        As Quail pondered other uses for the gold they had obtained, she thought she might buy the equipment necessary to promote the thief Dorchesman to a full fledged Treasure Hunter (80 GC), and the thug Barc to a Man-at-Arms (80 GC) For now though, she needed to go help the rest of the group get the tower suitable to live in; and plan for their next expedition into the ruined city.

Epilogue:   It was a fun game!  It was very different experience playing with a 0 level warband again.  I ended up being very hesitant to get involved in any combat.   For a first outing I was very pleased however to get three treasures, and Quail and Bailey managed 9 spells between them.  Though I wished I had been able to cast one more to get to an even 100 Experience Points for spell casting.  As it was, I got 150 Experience Points for the 3 treasure, 50 for Quail being on the table during the eclipse, and the 90 for the spells; giving me 290 total.

Here is the account of this session from the other Sigilist, the wizard Bemis: Darkness Falls

To continue following the Campaign with Game 2, see: Battle on the River


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, David! We missed having you and Jim there.

  2. You guys make my game look good!

    1. Thank you for the high praise, Joe! I think the reality is that your excellent game is what enables our efforts to look good. :)