Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 10: The Bone Wheels

     This past Saturday we played the 10th game of this year's Frostgrave Campaign, and the next to last scenario of the "Thaw of he Lich Lord" supplement book.  Next month we will be finishing up the book with the final showdown with the Lich Lord himself!  Then, in December we will be playing a special Christmas themed scenario for our annual Frostgrave Game Christmas Party.
     We had 6 of our regular players in attendance for Saturday's outing, which once again featured one of the Lich Lord's devious schemes to gain magical control the city.  Placed at regular intervals around the city, the Lich Lord had erected large circular wheels made of bones, lashed together, and then mounted on tall wooden pedestals so that the wheels could freely turn.  Hanging from the spoke of each wheel was a victim bound up tightly, unconscious, with a magic bejeweled bag tied around its neck.  These bags contained various objects needed for whatever bizarre ritual the Lich Lord was trying to enact.
    To read the report from last month's game, click here:  The Dark Cauldrons

     Unfortunately, I got the next to last choice of set-up zones, so was stuck in the center spot of one side.  This positioned my Sigilist, Quail, and her warband, with Bemis the other Sigilist on her left, and the Summoner, Challara, on her right.  Directly across was the Elementalist, Alfred the Unready, and to my diagonal left front was Gru the Soothsayer, and on my diagonal right front was the Necromancer, Missy.
A view of the table at the start of the game.
     The Report

     "Join me in a tale of cold-hearted betrayal...", Quailelyn began in her spookiest voice, as she leaned forward in her chair and looked out over the eager faces of her warband members.  They were seated around her, on various chairs, stools, or the floor, in the great hall.  A fire crackled in the large fireplace as a cold wind blew around the tower, making a low moaning sound.   The Sigilist leaned back again and smiled to herself as she continued her story; they were hooked.  There wasn't much to do in the cold nights on the outskirts of the frozen city, so the Wizard was often called upon to use her skill as a trained Storyteller to provide some entertainment for the assembled soldiers of her party. 
     She hadn't gotten far into the tale when the door of the tower creaked open, making everyone jump a little, and the one absent member, Sir Cardidil the Knight, came in and stood for a minute stamping his feet and rubbing his hands together to warm up.  He looked up when he felt all the eyes upon him.  "Ah, good, you're all here!", he said, oblivious to the fact he had just interrupted the story. "I have news from the tavern.  It seems our evil friend in the city is up to some new tricks." And with that, he told them all about the strange gigantic wheels, made of bones, that explorers returning from  the city that day had seen being built by teams of Death Cultists.
     Quail frowned, and tried to wrack her brain to think of what these wheels, that the Knight had described, could possibly be. The Maga Librarian of the Wizards' University library knew a lot of arcane magics, but these baffled her. She knew they would need to check them out for themselves, so story-time was cancelled, with some grumbling from the audience, and she gave the order to prepare for an expedition into the city first thing in the morning.
     And the morning came quickly.  There was much hustle and bustle in the tower as preparations were made.  Quail was pleasantly surprised when her Apprentice, Bailisette, came down in the morning and reported that she had taken the liberty to research the Magical Atlas at first light, and had made an interesting discovery near where they were heading that morning. Apparently there was a rare Archangel Blade that was kept in a place called the Giant's Rest.  It would be a great prize to find one of these swords; in effect exactly like a Vampire Blade, but it's nature was more aligned to Good than Evil.  The Sigilist was glad that her Apprentice had taken the initiative on this, as she had had no time herself to even think about looking at the atlas that morning.  (Quail fails Reveal Secret roll, and Bailey passes her's)
     The pair then got to work preparing potions for the day's trip, but with all the commotion in the main hall that morning, Clol the Barbarian, accidentally knocked into their work table, and both little cauldrons toppled off their stands just as the Wizard and her Apprentice were adding the last ingredients. (Both Spellcasters fail Brew Potion.)
Quail's deployment at the start of the game, and showing their proximity to the Banshee and Bone Wheel 
          As the party approached the area of the city where the giant Bone Wheels had been reported, they heard a high, piercing, shriek in the distance that went on for a full quarter minute, undulating up and down.  Everyone froze in their tracks, icy shivers went down their spines, and their ears rang for a couple minutes afterwards.  "Banshee." Quail said in a hushed voice.  She thought quickly of what to do, and consulted with Sir Cardidil as to their best course of action.  They knew that as they got closer to the creature the inhuman wail would become more devastating, and life threatening.
    The group crept forward to find a position where they could get a better look at the situation, but not risk their lives.  As they advanced, they spotted the Giant's Rest, or the ruins of it anyway.  It appeared to have been a massive house or inn, with windows and doors all sized and located for Giant-sized inhabitants.  But they couldn't concern themselves with recovering the treasure that was there just yet. In the distance they could see the source of their problem; a ghostly form of a woman sat upon a rock wringing a red cloth over and over again in her hands. As they watched the thing tilted it's head back and let loose with another extended cry.  Everyone immediately clapped their hands over their ears.  Some fell to their knees in pain.  Their blood turned to ice and their heads throbbed.  Quail's eyes watered as she closed them tightly and tried to block the sound and the pain.  Then as quickly as it started, it was over.  Everyone felt a little dizzy and nauseous, and, like before, their ears were ringing.
     "We have to go now!", the Knight urged in a loud whisper.  Quail nodded as she blinked tears from her eyes, and reached over and touched Clol on the arm.  Being the two soldiers with magic weapons, Sir C., and the Barbarian had been elected to join the Sigilist in a single mad dash at the immaterial creature, hoping they could surprise it and overwhelm it before it could let loose with another shriek.  At the distance they would be, it could be fatal.   The three ran as fast as they could at the ghostly woman.  She looked up with empty eyes, shocked at the sudden appearance of intruders.  Luckily for the attackers, her first reaction was to stand and face them her clawed hands raised in defiance. Just as they reached her she lashed out at the Barbarian with a clawed hand, but he swerved and escaped the claws.  The Banshee's mouth opened wide to wail, but only a short single note came out before Quail was there with her magic blade, and rammed it into the creature's chest killing it in a single blow (Quail rolls 13 + Fight 8 = 21) . The note was cut off almost before it started, and the ghostly woman looked at the Sigilsit with sad pleading eyes as it slowly vaporized into mist.
    The Maga Librarian reached over and put her hand on Clol's shoulder beside her, and bending over, resting her sword hand on her knee, gulped large breaths of the chilly air.  Quail was not use to sprinting like that, and she found herself winded by the exertion.   The Wizard, however, was brought back to the  immediate situation by Sir Cardidil who said merely, "M'lady."  to get her attention.  She sensed the urgency in the Knight's voice, and looked up to see him pointing to behind where the Banshee had been.
Quail, Sir Cardidil and Clol rush the Banshee.
       Quail now took a moment to quickly take in their surroundings. In the distance was one of the large Bone Wheels as had been reported.  What she wasn't prepared for was the six victims hanging, chained and unconscious, from it's spokes.   "What foul magic is this?" she thought to herself.  The Sigilist then spotted what had caused Sir C to gain her attention; there was a large warehouse just past the Bone Wheel and another Banshee just under one of it's windows.  As she looked and considered the sight,  she was suddenly shocked to see some of the strange Duckmen that the Elementalist, Alfred the Unready, used as his soldiers.  The faint quack-like sound of their calls could be heard as they fell upon the Banshee by the warehouse.  Quail then spotted Alfred himself in one of the warehouse windows. That could be trouble.  Elementalists could be deadly when provoked.  The Sigilsit called back behind her, "Bailey! Warehouse! Window!"
    As Quail watched a bank of fog appeared blocking the whole side of the building. (Bailey cast's Fog.)  The Sigilist would need all her wits now, so quickly she began reciting the words of the Awareness spell.  Casting it effortlessly, she felt her mind open to possibilities before her.  Quickly she ducked behind a nearby wall to consider her options.  Sir Cardidil caught a glimpse of a shadowy movement behind where the warband had entered, and taking his leave of the Wizard, went to investigate.  He didn't get far before the Elementalist Apprentice, Aardvark the Unsteady,  appeared from behind a wall on their left, and unleashed an Elemental Bolt at the Knight. Luckily the lad only managed the weakest of spells, and the Knight felt little more than a strange electric tingle.    Meanwhile, Clol, seeing the Duckmen who had entered on their right, charged directly at them, his huge Club of Battering waving above his head.
     Luc Demic, the Marksman, seeing the Barbarian's wild charge tried to provide some covering fire, and spotting a Duckman archer behind a low wall,  fired at him; but his shot went wide.   Bailey took the matter into her hands and quickly recited Fog again, though she stumbled a bit in her haste, and felt a painful pressure build up behind her temple. (Pushes spell for 2 HP)  Recovering herself, she completed the spell, and produced another wall of white mist blocking the view of the Duckman Archer and some other Duckmen as well. The Apprentice then turned to Kinny, the Halfling Treasure Hunter, and pointed to the Bone Wheel and the poor souls hanging from it.  "See if they are still alive and if you can help some of them."
   Kinny was off like a shot toward the wheel.  She reached it, and her Treasure Hunting eyes lit up as she saw a large bag, speckled all over with ornately mounted gems, tied around each victims neck.  Each bag was the size of a knapsack.  and they were obviously full of something.  The Halfling called out to her fellow Treasure Hunters, "Innis! Dorch!", and then jumped up onto the nearest victim and clutching the chains with one hand, grabbed a limp hand and sensed a weak pulse.  Quickly she picked the lock holding the chains and the limp body fell to the ground.  The Halfling  quickly relieved the body of the jeweled bag, as the poor soul slowly woke up from whatever trance it had been under.  He was a scruffy looking man, and rising slowly, he looked around himself with wide fearful eyes, then bolted off into the ruins.  Kinny watched the man flee, then realized the weird quack-talk of the Duckmen was getting louder; and she turned to see a number of them now swarming all over the wheel, seemingly oblivious to her.
    As Sir Cardidil ran back, he spotted the shadowy figure he had seen: a Frost Wraith.  Drawing his sword, empowered by his Ring of Life, he prepared to meet the creature.  It came at him, it's own ancient blade drawn, and both of them struck simultaneous blows. (Both rolled the exact same Attack totals) Sir C's thrust was enough to shatter the icy form of the Wraith and the frozen particles rained on the pavement a the Knight's feet.  Unfortunately, though, the Frost Wraiths blade had hit Sir Cardidil in the shoulder and it's icy effect shot though his body, chilling him to the bone. (Sir C. takes 7 HP damage.)
Opening advance.  On the left Cirvid the warhound can be seen in his ill-fated attack against the Elementalist's Apprentice. The Apprentice laid the dog low with a single blow. 
     Back at the Bone Wheel Dorchesman and Innis Flyn, the two other Treasure Hunters, as well as Barc the Man-at-Arms had arrived.  Dorchesman immediately went to free the closest victim and relieve them of their jeweled bag, while the other two ran around to engage two of the Duckmen who were working on some of the other victims.   However, before  Clol could strike at his opponent, the opposing Wizard cast Leap upon the Duckman, and snatching the jeweled bag, the strange feathered creature jumped high into the air and landed back by the warehouse, out of the Man-at-Arms reach.  Quail saw this from her vantage point back by the wall, and quickly turned to prevent the Elementalist's Apprentice from doing the same trick.  The Sigilist quickly took a quill from her pouch, and cast Furious Quill upon it.  It sped off towards the young lad, but he was able to bat it away.  He then turned and with his magic wand raised, he cast Leap upon the Duckman that Innis  was tangling with, sending it half leaping-half flying back to the warehouse.  It seemed there were feathers, and that incessant quacking everywhere, and before Quail's soldiers realized it,  the four other treasure were all stripped away from the wheel!
    With all the Duckmen involved with grabbing the jeweled bags, Quail took the opportunity to move up and inspect the Bone Wheel.  She reached a hand high up and tentatively touched one of the bones, and felt a strange and uncomfortable tingle.  Quickly she withdrew her hand.  Her mind considered the meaning of it all. (20 Experience for Wizard in contact with Bone Wheel.)
    Meanwhile, Clol and Barc saw the old Elementalist hiding behind a pile of rotting barrels and ran at him. They both prepared to swing, but the Wizard struck at Clol first, giving him a nasty gash.  Then out of nowhere a crossbow bolt hit the big Barbarian in the back and he toppled over into the snow.  Both Barc and the Elementalist were equally shocked at this, and they simultaneously turned to see a pair of Missy the Necromancer's Marksman along a nearby wall. What's more, some of the Necromancer's soldiers were approaching as well.   Alfred the Unready called out to his Duckmen, "On the Flank!"  Barc took the opportunity to give the wizard an ungracious jab with his spear to push him away, and then tried to extricate himself from the direct line of fire from the enemy Marksmen.
Clol and Barc charge Alfred the Unready.  Some wandering zombies can be seen in the background. 
   Soon another call of "Flank!" rang out from Sir Cardidl who was coming up from his fight with the Frost Wraith.  He had spotted members of the Summoner Challara's band creeping around from the rear of Quail's position.   The Knight also was suddenly hit by a bolt, this one from one of the Summoner's solders, and was knocked to the snow.  Weakly he stood back up, and limping forward tried to find Quail.  Bailey heard his call as well, and turning she saw the threat and immediately masked it with a wall of Fog.
     Quail had been alerted by Alfred the Unready's and Sir C's calls, but she hadn't noticed the Summoner's or the Necromancer's men; she was alarmed to see a pair of the wizard Gru's strange yellow minion creatures pass from under a viaduct off to her left, and head towards the warehouse.  Likewise, a Warhound she recognized as being Bemis appeared charging up from behind.  And there was one of the other Sigilist's soldiers rushing forward as well!  Quail realized if they didn't act fast they could be cut off and surrounded.   Urgently, she shouted, "Fall back!"  as loudly as she could.  Then before the hound could reach her, she cast Teleport upon herself, and in a flash was back near where the Giant's Rest was. She saw Bailey and called to her, "The Sword!"
   Bailey, hearing her mistress' call, recited the spell of Teleport herself, and soon materialized back in the ruins of the Giant's building.  Sallisee the Ranger had moved there as well in an effort to cover the retreat, and had spotted a promising looking chest.  She pointed it out to the Apprentice.
The flanking attacks begin!  On the left one of Gru's minions, as well as Bemis' warhound and one of Bemis' soldiers can be seen moving to intercept our unsuspecting warbands.
     Everyone was withdrawing now, and it became a race to get away from the four warbands moving in from the sides.    Kinny and Dorchesman were frantically dragging their heavy bejeweled bags back to safety, but it was slow going.   Quail stood there frantically encouraging the others as she slowly moved back to a safer position. Bailey breathed a sigh of relief as she saw Dorchesman and Kinny make it within the ruined walls of the Giant's Rest, but then Bemis' dog appeared in a gap in the wall, and leapt at Dorchesman.  The beast only caught his cape but the Treasure Hunter was pulled up short.  Bailey pointed to the chest that held the Archangel Sword, and said to Sally, "Take that out of here! Now!"  The Ranger obeyed, and hefting up the long sword case onto her powerful shoulders, turned and headed back towards the tower.  Bailey, however turned, and drawing her weapons, launched herself at the enemy Warhound.  In one devastating blow she brought the beast down, and Dorchesman gave her a grim smile and a nod of the head, and continued on, desperate to get his prize to safety.  Bailey followed him, and the rest of the band made their way back through the runs as quickly as possible.
The desperate attempt to flee.  Bemis' hound catches Dorchesman by his cape,  as even more of the other Sigilist's soldiers come charging in from the left.
     Back in the tower, everyone sat around exhausted and stunned.  They had never found themselves in such a situation before, and they felt lucky to have made it back home safely.    Well, most of them anyway.   The warhound Cirvid had recovered from an ill-fated attack on the young Elementalist Apprentice early in the engagement; but Clol the Barbarian was badly wounded from the bolt in his back.  Quail would have to seek out a costly healing potion to get him back on his feet for the next expedition (Buy replacement Barbarian for 100GC.) 
     They looked over the two bags they had recovered.  Then gems themselves would be worth about 40 GC for each bag.  When they opened them, one held a Grimore of Furious Quill, a spell Quail and Bailey already knew, but a valuable tome nonetheless that they could sell for a nice sum.  The other contained a pair of Gloves of Casting.  Quail held them up in the candle light and admired the fine stitching.   Though they seemed large and bulky, when she slipped them on, they shaped themselves smoothly to her delicate hands. She could feel the magical energy against her skin.  Taking them off again she turned her attention to the case with the Archangel Sword.  Opening it, they all gasped at the beautiful glowing blade inside and the fine carving on the untarnished silver hilt.   It hardly looked like it had sat unattended for a thousand years.   She would have to think about who in the party warranted such a prize.
End result: three treasures recovered, Cirvid and Clol fall during the game.
    Later that night, as Quaileyln sat alone in the main hall sipping some tea before bed, she contemplated the fact that her time here in the city would soon be over.  Only two more months.  The University had only granted her, Sir Cardidil, and Bailisette a year away, and that year was almost up.  How quickly the time had passed.  She considered all that had happened to her and her small group.    How much she had learned.   Then the Sigilist's mind turned to the growing evil that lurked in the ruins.  She was not comfortable knowing it was still out there.  How could she leave knowing it still grew stronger?  Quail hoped the menace would show itself soon, so she could help end whatever hold it had over the frozen city.

Game Epilogue:
     An exciting game!  I knew this game was going to be tough because the set up requires that all the treasures are in one concentrated location.  However, I had no idea the players on each side of me (and the Elementalist player) would silently decide amongst themselves to simply divide up the treasure on their Bones Wheels 50/50 and then come after ours!   In the end, all of them doing it turned out to be the failure of their plan, as I might have tried to hold my ground against one or two of them.  In the end there was no choice for either of us in the center but to hightail it and run.  My only regret was that I was only able to recover two of the Bone Wheel treasures and not my equal share of three.  How those dastardly ducks were able to strip four treasures off that thing so quickly still escapes me.  I'd love to see the video replay! :) 
     It was a very average game otherwise, with the 3 treasures recovered and 8 spells cast.  Quail also earned 20 EP for contacting the Bone Wheel, and 20 EP for killing the Banshee.  Also the rushed retreat of the Elementalist's and my warbands made for a short 5 turn game.
     And a note about the Vampire Blade/Archangel Sword.  When I rolled the Vampire Blade after the game it seemed like a pretty neat magical weapon to have, but I knew, given Quail's strong dislike for Necromancy and Undead things, that she probably wouldn't be too keen on keeping such a vile weapon. So, using literary license, and a gamer's prerogative to tinker, I simply decided to rename the weapon to something with more of a Good alignment; drawing strength from the wicked to heal the just.
     We're all looking forward to next month now.  The big showdown with the Lich Lord should be quite the battle.  Be sure to stay tuned!

To read Bemis' account of the battle, see: The Bone Wheel Goes Round and Round

Monday, October 9, 2017

HAWKs Host First invitational Gaming Day

    This past Saturday the HAWKs hosted their first ever Invitational Gaming Day.  This came about after some regular attendees of the HAWKs BARRAGE convention, from New Jersey, asked the club if it would be possible to get together on a more informal basis this October for a friendly day of gaming, after this year's BARRAGE had to be rescheduled to January '18 due to a mess-up with the venue's scheduler.  We ended up with a nice crowd of over 30 gamers from the HAWKs, New Jersey, and some from Western, MD and Pennsylvania.
     We used the meeting hall in the church where we run our regular meetings, and set up six full sized 8' x10' tables, and scheduled for two blocks of games; the first from 9:00AM- 1:00PM, and the second from 2:00PM to 6:00PM.    The games offered spanned many historical periods, as well as both the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. It was big success, with everyone having a great time, and there's already talk of doing it again!
Don Manser's beautiful Pickett's Charge game using Fire & Fury.

John Mitchell's Operation Barbarossa game using Bolt Action.

Sam Fuson's Sherlock Holmes puzzle solving game using G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.

Heated pile on pile action in Jamie Davis' Magic Carpet Racing game using a Future Race and Blood & Swash hybrid.

Eric Schlegel's Sméagol's Ferry game using modified Blood & Swash

Don Hogge's Rumble in the Jungle game using Congo.

Greg Priebe's Clone Wars game using the new Star Wars supplement for  Combat Patrol.

Cliff Brunken's Battle of Germantown 1777 game using Black Powder.

John Hollier's 15mm Napoleonic game using Shako 2.

Zeb Cook's 1939 Winter War game using Combat Patrol.
     Thanks to the GM's and gamers for making this such a success.  From the onset we decided we wanted to keep it simple, so there was no food service (we ordered some 3' subs from a nearby Subway for lunch), and no flea market.  It really was a great low key and informal chance for gamers to get together for an excellent day of gaming.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Demo Video for the Combat Patrol Skirmish Rules' New Star Wars Supplement

     I was privileged this past week to take part in the recording of a demonstration video for the just-released Star Wars supplement for Buck Surdu's innovative Combat Patrol: WWII skirmish rules.  I played in a small 2-player game, along with the supplement's author Greg Priebe.  The scenario we used was based on the first episode of the first season of the Clone Wars animated series, Ambush!.  Combat Patrol author, Buck Surdu, acted as our Game Master.
     It was a really fun and close game.  I commanded the Droid forces, and the Clones did managed to take out my two tanks;  but by the end I had severely wounded Yoda, and decimated the Clone force down to just a few remaining troopers.

   The free Star  Wars supplement, as well as Star Wars specific organizational unit cards, can be found on the Combat Patrol webpage: Combat Patrol .  Note, the basic Combat Patrol rules, and at least one Combat Patrol activation deck are needed to use this supplement.