Monday, March 27, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 3: Loot the Caravan

     This past Saturday we got together to play the third 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.   Last month we played the book's second scenario, (To read the account of last month's game see: Battle on the River), and this month we moved on to the third scenario, "Loot the Cart", or as we modified it, "Loot the Caravan".
     We had 6 of our 8 regular players, and one guest player, available for Saturday's game; so we used the full 12' x 3' table set-up.
     Since there were 7 of us, we increased the number of carts to 12, and then each took turns placing two of our treasures in the carts.  We didn't make any rules as to which carts these treasures had to be placed, so technically players could have piled them all in one; but no one was willing to risk making a big pile of treasure, and then not getting to start in the area in which the overloaded cart was located.  So we ended up with 10 of the carts containing one treasure, and two of the carts containing 2 treasures.  We then placed one Death Cultist with each treasure, so most carts had one Cultist, and the double-treasure carts had a pair of Cultists.  Next, we placed our third treasure as per the normal treasure placing rules.  We determined that the entry locations for the Ghoul reinforcements that arrive on turn three would be determined randomly with a d30 dice roll, just like we do for wandering beasts; and there would be 14 of them (2 x 7 players).
     We then established our initial set-up positions and first turn order using our usual numbered-poker-chips-in-a-paper-bag method.  My Sigilist, Quailelyn, and her Apprentice, Bailisette, with their party, started in the center of the side with three players, exactly where I didn't want her to be; as this meant that I had two warbands to my front, and one on each side.  To my warband's left was the warband of a Summoner called Chaffarn to the left front was the Sigilist, Bemis.  To the right front was Basil the Elementalist, and  directly on their right was an unknown Soothsayer.
A view of the table before the game began.  Quails entry position marked with the red oval.  
      As Maga Librarian Quailelyn picked her way through the rubble, she became increasing aware of the presence of other wizards nearby in the city.  Apparently, they were not the only ones who had heard the rumors of the upstart Necromancer now residing in Frostgrave and his caravan of supplies and treasure that was currently stuck in the city due to several of the  wagons breaking down in the rubble and ice filled streets.  She turned to her Apprentice, Bailisette, and said, "Can you feel them? The other wizards?"  The young girl concentrated a moment and then nodded.
 "We must be careful and cautious" Quail whispered; for the elder Librarian knew, if she could sense that the others where here, they would most likely know that her party was present as well.   Quail was also still haunted by the memory of her last outing down to the harbor, where over half her warband had fallen during the battle; and only through the grace of the heavens had none been killed or seriously wounded.
        Quail had been up early this morning, and she and Bailey had stood out on the parapet of her tower base with the old magical Felstad Atlas that the Maga Librarian had liberated from her university library's Antiquities section, and the magic crystal magnifier that was needed to read it.  The pair stood in the frigid morning air, and attempted to discern a good place to look for treasure that day.
A look at the caravan, strung out and vulnerable, on the main thoroughfare leading up the center of the table.
        It was up on this perch that Sir Cardidill the knight had found them, as he came huffing up the long staircase and burst through the tower door leading to the parapet; his breath huffing hard in the cold air.  The two women turned in shock, as they were not used to being disturbed up on the tower's top floor; as few in the party fancied the long climb.  Sir Cardidil opened his mouth as if preparing to speak, then bent over and putting his hands on his knees took a moment to catch his breath.   He rose again, and collecting himself, reported the news that he had heard that morning in the tavern where he had gone to break his fast: that there was a treasure caravan, belonging to an evil necromancer, stranded in the city on the Avenue of Eternals, by the old Outer Viaduct.
   Quail turned back to the Atlas, and flipped quickly through the pages.   Stopping on a page near the middle, she peered through the crystal as her finger traced across the aged parchment.  "Here." she said as she studied where the two routes that the Knight had indicated intersected on the map.  Then her eye wandered to some writing on the map near to where she pointed: Fountain of the Ring of Life.  She looked up and stared out across to the far ruins, thinking.  Where had she heard that name before...
      Then it came to her, the old tales of the Ring of Life, a powerful magic ring that gave the wearer protection from the undead; rumored to be hidden near a ring shaped pool of water.  The name was so similar to the landmark, she wondered if it could be the same.   If they were to be facing a Necromancer and his minions, it might not be a bad object to obtain.   Perhaps they could locate the ruins of the fountain on their way to find the caravan.  (Successful pre-game casting of Reveal Secret.)  Quailelyn heaved the old book shut, and turned to Sir Cardidil.  "Prepare the party.", she commanded.
The starting positions for Quail and her warband. The two target carts can  be seen in the distance.
     As they approached the location of the caravan, Quail could hear the rough shouts of the Death Cultist guards along the length of the strung out carts and wagons.  They seemed to be quite aggravated with their stranded situation, and tempers were apparently running high.  Quail came up behind the ruin of the Fountain of the Ring of Life, right where the map said it would be, and in the distance she could now see a pair of the carts, and two cultists guarding them, barking commands at each other.  The Sigilist studied the circular fountain and the runes upon it, and then noticed a few feet away that there was a strange ice spire emerging from the snow.
     She turned to Bailey, "See that spire of ice over there?" The Apprentice turned and looked. " You sometimes find those naturally occurring in frozen climes over the sites of powerful magic relics.   Something to do with the magical energy they emit resonating with the ice crystals in the air. I bet if you search beneath the spire you will find the magic ring we seek. "   She then directed her Apprentice, Clol the Infantryman, Sallisee the Archer, and Kinny the Thief to go over and investigate the spire and then capture the cart to their front on the right.  With herself she took Sir Cardidil the Knight, Luc Demic the Crossbowman, and Dorchesman the Treasure Hunter.  She left Innis Flin the Thief, and Barc the Man-At-Arms to help out where needed.
     Quailelyn  hadn't advanced far when she saw one of the Sigilist Bemis' calling cards appear in the sky: A Draining Word for Bone Dart.  That's not a bad idea she thought, and she raised her hand and with a slender finger began tracing letters skyward, producing a Draining Word of Elemental Bolt.  That will help, she thought.  She then took a moment to survey the surrounding ruins, and found they were very boxed in by a large ruined tower on her left, and the old viaduct on her right, and she realized that might not be a bad thing as far as guarding from encroaching warbands on their flanks went.  She was however very exposed to her front, so the wizard called to Bailey a single word, "Fog!"  Obediently, the young girl began casting a Fog wall by the ruined tower on the left, and then she turned and produced a second Fog over on the far side of a gap in the viaduct.   Meanwhile Bemis' Apprentice added a Draining Word: Leap, to the sky, which now burned with fiery glowing words in several spots, casting green and red glow on the taller ruins.
Opening moves.  
      Once the fog was in place,  Quail took a moment to look up at the ruined tower. And as she did the sky clouded over, and the breeze picked up,  as snowflakes began to fall hitting her in the face.  That would be Chaffarn Calling a Storm she concluded.   Turning her thoughts from the weather,  Quail thought again about the tower and  felt it looked very promising.  She instructed Dorchesman to check it out.  The Treasure Hunter gave her a smile and a wink, and immediately began scaling the crumbling stone wall to get inside.
   Over on the right, Sallisee put an arrow in the Cultist by the cart to their right front, and before the wounded man could find a place to hide, Luc Demic finished him off with a crossbow bolt. On the left, Sir Cardidil and Barc made their way forward to the lefthand cart.  The swirling snow intensified as Carffarn's Apprentice, Aina, added her own Call Storm spell to the squall.
Sir Cardidil and Barc raid the left cart.
     Barc and Sir C engaged with the Cultist guarding the second cart, and brought him down; but not before he gave the Man-at-Arms a nasty wound. The Knight quickly rummaged through the cart and found a promising  chest.  He looked up and could see the blood dripping down Barc's  left pants leg, and the gash in his leather jerkin.  "Can you take this and get back to the tower?" he asked the wounded soldier? Barc nodded sternly and clutching the chest with one hand and his side with the other, began dragging the prize back through the snow.   Over at the other cart, the small Thief, Kinny, was hefting a large chest, almost as big as her, out of the back; then letting it drop out onto the ground, she hopped down beside it, and with a strength above what one would expect from her size, she began dragging it through the snow.
    Quail's eyes were caught by some movement behind them , and she turned to see a trio of Zombies shuffling through the storm towards Bailey; who was herself busy searching beneath the ice spire for the ring.  The snow was surprisingly fluffy despite the weight of ice on top of it, and she didn't have to dig far before she found a strange large flat box.  She snapped the clasp open and there in a large expanse of blue satin, was a small circular indentation holding  a gold ring.  Snapping the lid closed again, she looked up, startled at Quail's call, and stumbled backwards at the three gruesome figures making their way towards her.   She called for help as she ran from the threat, clutching the oversized ring box.
   The Maga Librarian peered through the swirling storm (Now intensified to a third level) to try and see what was happening to her Apprentice.  Nearby, Luc Demic called out, "Watch out Ma'am!" as he raised his crossbow to fire at her. Quickly she realized it wasn't her he was aiming at, but instead it was a Large Rat, nearly the size of a big dog,  that had crawled out of a pile of nearby rubble and was almost upon her.  She had been so distracted by the Zombies falling upon Bailey she hadn't even noticed it.  Luckily, despite the raging weather, Luc's shot was true, and the rat dropped dead, just a little over a foot from the Sigilist.
Bailey, recovering the Reveal Secret produced treasure, is surprised by a trio of Zombies.
     Bailisette's cries for help, did not go unheeded, and Sallisee, Innis Flin and Clol were soon there to help.  Sallisee fired a couple arrows, but with the raging storm her shots were ineffective. It was up to Innis and Clol to take care of the undead intruders.  Clol gave one a might blow with his new Club of Battering, severely wounding it and sending it reeling back 3 inches.  The other two Zombies attacked Innis, and while the Thief was able to fend of one without doing any damage, the second gave him a nasty slice across the arm with its long filthy claw-like fingernails.  Clol, came to help his friend, and with the help of the magic club the pair made short work of the other two, and then finished off the third.
     Quail found herself facing another problem as Ghouls sent by the Necromancer to help the Cultists guarding the caravan, now appeared near where she stood.   She had wandered a little away from the group, searching for any likely spots to which she could teleport to search for treasure, and now she was alone facing two Ghouls.  Quickly she pulled a quill from her pouch, and rubbing the tip between her two hands, she spoke the words of Furious Quill, and tossed the feather into the air.  It immediately shot through the storm and began stabbing at the head of one of the Ghouls like an angry bird. The Ghoul swatted at it confusedly, but wasn't quick enough to catch it.  "Bailey! Some help, please!",  she called out to her Apprentice, "Now!"
Over on the other side of the area, Quail, who wandered off on her own,  is set upon by a Ghoul duet.
     Bailey was too far away to be much immediate help, but she could see what an unfortunate position her master was in.   Quickly raising one hand as if she was trying to hold up a wall, the young girl chanted the words of a Push spell with all her concentration and might.   It hit one of the Ghouls with such force it sent him flying backwards (Rolled an 18 attack + 10) where only it's hitting the wall of a distant ruin, with a loud thud, stopped it.
     Sir C and Luc rushed to help the Librarian.   Quail attempted to Teleport to a position of safety, but she rushed the spell, and a spike of pain shot up through her head from behind her right eye. (Rolled a 3 and took 1 HP damage) Reeling, she stumbled back, and ran around the ruined tower out of view of the Ghouls.  Bailey, let loose with  another Push spell and sent the second Ghoul sliding backwards through the snow, Furuous Quill and all, until it too hit the ruin the first one had hit and came to a halt.  Clol, having just dispatched the third Zombie, now ran over to help as well.
Kinny, in the left foreground, carries away her treasure, as Bailey (left) moves to help Quail.  On the right Sallisee,  Innnis, and Clol deal with the Zombies.
     Quailelyn tried her own Push spell on Sir Cardidil to get him to the Ghouls faster, but he was so heavy in his armor, he hardly moved. Instead he ran forward on his own power.   Bailey launched a third Push spell, this time on Clol, to get him to a position to help faster.      Luc tried to fire his crossbow as fast he could but in the fierce storm, his shots were all going wild.
     Quail caught her breath and analyzed the situation.  As the Maga Librarian tried to come up with a plan, she was shocked when she suddenly heard whistling coming from above her, drifting down with the swirling flakes; and turning to look up she saw Dorchesman, the Treasure Hunter, scaling down the ruined tower wall.  He had a big chest strapped to his back, and a happy tune was coming from his pursed lips. He stopped whistling long enough to call down, "Wait until you see what I have, Ma'am!", and he resumed his merry song. Quail tried to place the tune, and thought it sounded similar to a bawdy one she had heard once or twice at the university when students thought she was out of earshot. But surely not here, now, from Dorchesman, she thought.
As Quail recovers herself out of view around the tower, and Luc Demic and Sir Cardidil prepare to handle the Ghouls, Dorchesmen comes climbing down the tower with a large chest.
     She didn't think about it long, as her attention was quickly drawn back to the matters at hand.  She had four treasures and no one had fallen so far during the foray.   It was definitely time to call it a day she thought.  She called to the Knight, " Sir Cardidil, can you safely buy us some time?!"
    "Yes, Ma'am. It would be my pleasure!" the Knight responded, and raising his sword he advanced towards the Ghouls.  The rest of the party began the trek back to the tower.
The end shot.  Four treasures recovered.  Nobody dead.  (For some reason Luc Demic, over by the tower, was too busy looking for a dropped crossbow bolt, and forgot to join the others for the group shot.) :)
     Sir Cardidil arrived back at the tower about an half hour after the rest, a bad gash in one shoulder; but none the worse for wear.  Quail couldn't believe her good fortune: four treasures recovered, and no one killed, nor even that badly wounded.    She could get used to this kind of outcome, but knew she was just experiencing a run of good luck.  The Sigilist was always weary of good fortune as she knew there was only one way it could turn.
    They spent that evening taking stock of what they had recovered.  Careful inspection revealed the ring Bailey had found was indeed, the Ring of Life (+1 Fight & +1 Armor vs Undead, plus weapon counts as magical)  Dorchesman was happy to reveal his chest was full to the top with gold coins! (A roll of 2 on the Treasure table, d20 x 20 GC, was followed by a miraculous roll of 20!) There were 400 coins when they took the time to count later.    Barc had dragged back a chest that held 30 gold coins and three carefully wrapped potion bottles: Toughness, Chameleon, and Preservation).  The chest Kinny  had retrieved was in fact a shield case, holding a Magic Shield (+1 Armor) and 20 gold coins.
    Quail had never seen so much gold at one time in her life.  It was more wealth than she made in a year at the university.  She would have to do some careful thinking about how to spend it, and certainly some of the party had earned promotions.   But for the moment she found her thoughts turning to the Necromancer who's caravan they had raided.  There was a great deal of power and planning behind an effort so large, and supplies of such quantity belied a large operation.  Something was afoot in the city, and it troubled the Maga Librarian.

Epilogue: It was a really fun game!  Despite my initial trepidation about where I was starting, terrain and situation conspired to draw everyone's attention away from Quail and her band; and I decided not to go looking for trouble, especially when I started getting a lot of monsters appearing in my zone.   There was a double treasure cart just to my front left and the other to my front right, but I would have to have taken on the bulk of Bemis' and Basil's warbands to get them.  And the memory of battling two warbands was too fresh in my mind from the last game.  I saw no reason to risk it, especially when there was more than enough treasure within my easy reach.   
     It was another game where nobody died, which worries me as much as it pleases me.  Having just played a year with Kodak, who lost key figures almost every game, I'm not use to this, and I know the game is going to come soon where I'm hit hard.    Quail hasn't had to face the realities of loosing a member of her band yet, and that may be a hard wake-up call when it happens.

 For Bemis' report on the game, see: Wagons, Ho!

For a few paragraphs on the game from the player controlling Basil the Elementalist: See Saturday Games

To Continue Following the Campaign, See: Game 4, Borough of the Beastmen

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cold Wars '17: Friday Photos

   This past weekend was the Cold Wars gaming convention at the Lancaster Host in Lancaster, PA.  I arrived Friday midday with the plan of running two Frostgrave games, one Friday night, and the other Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I was hit with a really bad stomach bug Friday night, so had to cancel my Saturday morning game, and having nothing else on my schedule, I decided to head home to recover.  My apologies to anyone who was signed-up for the cancelled game.
   My photos therefore are only from Friday.

My Friday Night Frostgrave Game

Duncan Adams' "The Church at St. Boes; February 1814" Game

Greg Priebe's "Combat Patrol: The Clone Wars" Game

David Schlegel's "Hanov; 1943" Double Blind WWII Game

Zeb Cook's "Raid on Korad: A Battle on Barsoom" Game

Geoff Graff's  "Talk Like a Pirate Day at Schlegel's Ferry" Game

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dollar Tree Mermaid Ghost Archipelago Terrain, Part 2

   After completing my mermaid tail arch from a air of mermaid dolls from the local Dollar Tree store, last month, a lot fof olks asked what I planned to do with the left over mermaid top-halves.  I considered this as something of a challenge, and so set about thinking about possible terrain projects to make from partially naked plastic doll halves.
   Inspired by the cover of the Ghost Archipelago cover, featuring a band of heroes facing off against a band of snakemen natives, I got the idea to make one of the doll halves into some sort of snake-man goddess idol.
     The first thing I needed to find was a suitable snakeman head, so I made another trip to the local Dollar Tree to see what I could find.  I wasn't able to find a plastic snake I could use, but I did find a suitable plastic lizard that had just the right head and neck pose to go atop a human torso.
   With lizard in hand, I began to construct my snakeman goddess idol.  I began by cutting down an old CD, and hot-gluing a piece of pine bark mulch to it to serve as a base.  I then cut the head of the lizard, and pulled the head off the doll.  I had to cut the neck of the doll down a little to fit the lizard head, but once things looked good I glued the lizard head in place with a liberal amount of hot-glue to help fill any gaps and blend the shape to the body.    I then hot-glued the torso to the hunk of mulch and glued the arms into a satisfactory position.
     Next, I  drilled couple holes in the top jaw to insert a couple toothpick fangs, and then used some Milliput to help blend all the joints and blend the mulch to the base.  I also sculpted a little sacrifice basin at the base of the idol, and glued some small rocks on the base. 
      When all the Milliput was dry, I gave the piece a spray with Krylon Camouflage with Fusion "Flat Black" spray paint to act as a primer.  And when that was dry, I sprayed the idol with some stone textured spray paint.
     When the stone texture was dry, I painted the idol with some Folk Art "Grey Green" craft paint, and then applied some washes of Citadel "Nuln Oil", and "Green" ink.  After that I glued some course sand to the base.  When the sand was dry, I painted that, and then drybrushed highlights on to the statue and base.  When the paint was dry, I glued some various foliage all over the base.  Then, when the weather warms up, I will give the piece a spray of Dullcote to seal it. 

    I'm really happy with how she turned out considering she was a spur of the moment make-use-of-a-leftover inspired construction.