Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 2: The X's Mark the Spots

     This past Saturday we got together for the second game in our Ghost Archipelago Campaign. We started playing the scenarios from the Core Rulebook this month, beginning with the fist one: X Marks the Spot.   We, of course, modified it because of having all 7 of our players present, to: The X's Mark the Spots.     We used an 8'x3' table, with three Central Treasures evenly spaced along the center line of the table.
     I was terribly unlucky on my draw for starting position (We draw numbered chips from a bag), and ended up with last choice.  This meant I didn't get to chose, but was left with the last spot that nobody else wanted.   So it was a bit treasure sparse, and sandwiched between two other players on the 4-player side of the table.
     Directly across from me and a bit to the right was the Heritor,  Lady Katheryne of House Coldvaughn* and her Storm Warden, Sigmaul Windshadow; and to my front left was Skorri Drakenberg, and his Wave Warden, Anemone.   Directly on my left was the Heritor, Herndon, and his Wave Warden, Arwhine; and directly on my right was the strange Duckman Heritor, Robin Duck, and his Duckman Vine Warden, Friar Duck.

To read the report from the previous game, see:  First Foray

To read Skorri Drakenburg's account of this second game, see: X Never Marks the Spot

      * I'll just note here that Lady Katheryne and her crew were one of the bands I made up for last month's convention game, and were being used by Rob just this one time since he had been unable to put together his own crew in time for the game.  This meant that she and her crew were only going to be in this one game, so had nothing to live for....
A view of the whole table, the Central Treasure locations, and the entry spot that was left for me.  
The Report

        Lord Fortrywn stood on the beach with the ancient book in his hand staring at the open page.  He flipped back a page, then forward again; looked up at the tree line a few yards away, then back at the book.  The small tome, a diary, had seen better days.  It was over 200 years old, had survived flood, fire, and war; and looked it.  The brown leather cover was black in some areas, and a mildew white in others.    It had belonged to a crewman aboard the ship of a pirate who had prowled the Archipelago back when it last appeared; had gotten rich off of plundering the ships of foolhardy adventures, and had buried his treasure on this very island.  While the old pirate had taken the location to his grave, a few of the less loyal crewman had written about it in their diaries; the spoils had been divided up and buried under a series of large stones all marked by a large chiseled X.   The Elf Heritor hoped some of the treasure locations still remained untouched, and that there might be a clue or two to the location of the Crystal Pool buried in with the treasure.
         Satisfied that he had his bearings, Lord Fortrywn shut the book, placed it into his pouch, and strode back to his waiting landing party.  His thoughts returned to the campaign in which he had obtained the diary.  A barren land, and savage people.  There had been a few small villages, and one such had had a monastery with a library. How the diary had ended up there he couldn't fathom.
     The group marched through the sweltering heat of the jungle.  The Elf's eyes scanned the tree tops, whenever there was enough of a clearing to see in the distance.  He was looking for a large ruined temple that stood tall on a low mound.  The Heritor would need the building to get his bearings.
     Then, at last, it's crumbling top came into view, so Lord Fortrywn stopped the crew and gathered them near.  He called his niece, and Warden, Marnilyne to him, and looking down his long nose at her he frowned for a few seconds as if considering something displeasing.  The Elf gave his head a slight shake to clear his thoughts and then  instructed the girl to take with her the Archer Randilas, and two of the crewmen, Arbyn and Vilkse, and explore a bit off to the left.  The Heritor then instructed his Hunter, Gwynwater, and Pearl Diver, Salin, to join him along with the other Archer, Quinlere, in the search for one of the treasure marking stones.   The two other crewmen, Dirkand (replacing the wounded Lurlin) and Bry, were instructed to stay within earshot of both groups and help where needed.  As usual, The Heritor had seen other sails around the island as they had approached earlier that morning, so he knew they would not be alone.
The groups are divided.
     The party advanced only a short time further before they broke into a more open part of the jungle.  A short way off Lord Fortrywn saw what he was sure was one of the Treasure Stones, next to a small pond.  Unfortunately, the Elf also saw there was a large Crocodile sunning itself atop the large flat rock.  He also saw a small ruined outbuilding for the temple off to the left, with what looked like a treasure chest sitting half buried in it's crumbling ruins.   Gwyn the Hunter, and Quinlere, jogged forward, both drew their bows, and fired at the Crocodile.  They both missed.   Lord Fortrywn strode forward as well, but held back a little to let the bow-armed soldiers do their job.  He cursed in frustration as they missed, but was then distracted as almost immediately two arrows whizzed past him.  He looked to his right, and there was the strange Duckman Heritor, Robin Duck, and another Duckman, an Archer, a little further up to the left of the feathery Heritor.  
   The Elf Lord called out to his Warden, his voice booming, "Niece! I need cover now!"  Marny's head shot around, and she quickly appraised the situation her Uncle now found himself.   Summoning her powers, she waved her hands gently back and forth in the air  in front of her and chanted the spell for Plant Walk.  Nothing happened.  The girl started to panic, and quickly she renewed the chant, closing her eyes and willing the vegetation to move with all her mental strength. A fire began in the center of her brain and spread outward, but the trees, bushes and vines started to rock back and forth, and slowly began to crawl along the earth.  (Pushed spell for -3 HP)
     The skies began to cloud over as somewhere on the island a Storm Warden worked their magic.  (Cloud Cover cast, LOS becomes 16").  This did not stop Robin Duck, however, from moving a little left to get a better view around the newly relocated jungle, and aiming at Lord Fortrywn again.  Using his Heritor abilities (Trick Shot) the Duckman, as able to still easily target the Elf Heritor, even with his being mostly obscured by the recently-moved vegetation.   Like a knife, the arrow sliced through the underbrush and found its target, striking Lord Fortrywn in the upper arm. (-5 HP). The Elf General had been hit with arrows numerous times in his life, and this was little more than an annoyance.  He pulled the arrow from his arm, barely breaking stride, as all his focus was on the Treasure Stone. 
A large Crocodile suns itself on the Treasure Stone by a small pond.
      The Crocodile had now noticed the two Elves who had fired arrows at it.   The large creature slid from the Treasure Stone and advanced on it's short legs, gliding through the pond a short way, and rose again on the near bank.   Gwynwater the Hunter stowed her bow, and drew her long sword. The  beast lunged and snapped at her with his mighty jaws, but the the agile Elf was able to dodge and bring her sword down on the animal's back.  The blade hit, but did not cut that deeply into the hard armor on the Crocodile's scaly back. (-4 HP) The monster was enraged now and backed up a few steps as it prepared to attack again.
    While the Hunter battled the Crocodile.  Salin, the Pearl Diver had advanced and easily swam the pond, reaching the Treasure Stone.  Quinlere, the Archer, advanced a little further, but stopped and fired at the Duckman archer.  Marny, from her position on the left, seeing her uncle get hit by the arrow, tried to draw forth the healing waters from the nearby pond to help him, but was too exhausted from her exertions at Plant Walk and failed in the attempt. (Tries casting Waters of Life, rolled a 3) 
Lord Fortrywn advances on the right, as the Pearl Diver, Salin, has reached the stone on the far side of the pond.  On the left, Quinlere fires at the Duckman Archer who is just beyond Salin; and in the foreground, Gwyn battles the Crocodile.
      Back on the left, the two crewman from The Silver Sword, Arbyn and Vilkse, with Randilas the Archer in support, moved to investigate a ancient section of a giant fallen tree. It looked like the ideal place someone might secret away a treasure.   Suddenly from a nearby patch of jungle, a hail of missile fire erupted, Arbyn was immediately struck by an arrow and crossbow bolt and fell down, unmoving, into the tall grass.   The others, seeing their fellow crewman drop, came to a shocked halt.  A deep voice boomed out, unseen from the within the darkness of the trees. A voice which they recognized as the Heritor, Herndon, "Stay away!"  Leave now, and I'll let the rest of you go unharmed."
       Quickly the Archer and Crewman looked at each other, and decided discretion was the better part of valor, and backed away slowly.  They ran into crewman Bry who was moving up to investigate an old abandoned hut which stood next to a rickety wooden watch tower.
     Bry moved around to the hut's door, and was surprised to find the Heritor Skorri Drakenberg standing there within, holding a small chest.  Quickly, he lept out a nearby window, and instinctively Bry followed the running opponent as she called desperately for help.  Drakenberg was waiting for her just outside the window of the hut, and it was too late when the Elf sailor realized what she had gotten herself into.  The Heritor didn't even bother to use the blade of his sword, but merely swung mightily with is fist wrapped around  the metal grip of the sword, and with one solid punch he dropped the young Elf like a stone.
     As Skorri turned, Vilkse and Randilas were there, and charged at him.  Drakenberg grew impatient now, and was not so gentlemanly anymore.  Vilkse got the pointy end of the sword, and fell with a gash in his left side; and then using his Back Swing ability, the Heritor brought the blade back against Randilas who tried to dodge, but got a nasty gash on the arm. The archer stumbled backwards.  Skorri pointed the tip of his sword at the Archer and glared at him as a warning, then turned and was off at a run with his treasure around the base of the watchtower.
Arbyn, Vilkse, and Randilas move to explore the large fallen tree. Just past it is the abandoned hut and watchtower.
     As Gwyn battled the Crocodile, another local inhabitant was attracted to the sound of new visitors to the island; a mighty Gorilla.  This one was different though, as he wore the armor trappings of some ancient civilization.  Was he a remaining guardian of the long gone temple?  The beast appeared on top of the stump of a once-mighty tree, where he stood and surveyed the intruders.  He then proceeded to climb down and head for the Elven Hunter at a slow lumbering pace.  It only took Gwynwater's single second of distraction, as she noticed this new arrival approaching, for the Crocodile to see it's opportunity; and springing forward with more energy then belied the low short legs, the large reptile was upon the Elf, and it's mighty jaws clamped down upon her leg.  She screamed out as she fell, and went down hard on her back. She could feel the bone crack in her leg as the monster clamped down, and the pain radiated through her whole body.  With what remaining strength she had, the Hunter quickly curled forward and plunged her sword, tip first, into the base of the animal's head.  The sharpened metal cut all the way through and a few inches into the ground.  The beast writhed for a few seconds and then lay there motionless, its jaws still locked around the Hunter's leg.  (Both Gwynwater and the Crocodile score a Fight roll total of 20)  Quickly, Gwyn worked at freeing herself, as the huge Gorilla approached.  Desperate, she called to Marny for help.  The girl Warden ran over, and chanted the spell for Waters of Life.  Water bubbled up from the edge  of the pond and trickled through the grass in tiny rivulets, making it's way to the injured Hunter.  It pooled around where Gwyn rested her hand on the ground, and almost immediately, the Hunter felt a tingling go up her arm, and the throbbing pain in her leg subsided a little.  Standing, the Elf-woman looked over at the Warden and said solemnly, "Thank you, girl, but I think I will need more than your magical help in this fight.  Come here. Stand with me, and draw your sword."  The Hunter could at least walk now, but knew her leg was still bleeding badly within her shredded pants; and it wouldn't take any prolonged stress.  Gwynwater braced herself, and flexed her fingers on the grip of her sword, as the mighty ape was almost upon them.
In the foreground, Gwyn desperately tries to deal with the Crocodile, as the huge Gorilla approaches from the left.
         The group's Hunter was not the only one who faced a rapidly deteriorating predicament.   Using his Surge ability, Lord Fortrywn had quickly crossed the last few yards to the Treasure Stone.  Unfortunately, he was not alone.  The Heritor, Katheryne of House Coldvaughn, also approached with her Freebooter.   The Duckman Archer was also there, and the Freebooter charged the feathered creature.  Lady Katheryne was a step ahead of Lord Fortrywn, and she laid into Salin the Pearl Diver.   The Elf Heritor hoped he had the chance he needed as the two opponents were engaged in fighting, and without pausing he ran up and put his shoulder right into the treasure stone.  It did not budge.  Shocked, Lord Fortrywn shook his head in disbelief, and putting his shoulder into it agin, redoubled his efforts.  Again nothing.  (I rolled an 8 and a 2. ) 
      Over to the Heritor's left, both Dirkand the Crewman, and the Archer, Quinlere,  had moved up.  Drikand quickly recovered the long narrow chest from the temple outbuilding's pile of crumbling stonework, and turned to head back to the beach.    Quinlere raised his bow, and fired upon one of Katheryne's Crewmen who approached the Treasure Stone fight, dropping the man with a single arrow.
    Lady Katheryne's Freebooter, easily bested the Duckman Archer, and seeing two Heritors already around the treasure stone, Robin Duck recalled his wounded Archer, and the  pair went to search for better opportunities.
The battle at the Tresure Stone begins.
     Lord Fortrywn heaved at the stone a third time, calling upon all his Heritor's strength, and it finally moved.  Beneath it lay a shallow hole, and within the hole was a chest. The Elf's eyes glinted at the prospect of what it contained; but there was no time now.  Salin called to him, "Help, my Lord!", as he was no match for Katheryne's skills and power.  In a bound, the tall Heritor was there to assist, but it was a moment to late, as the lady Heritor blocked the Pearl Diver's  untrained attack, and came back with a slice of her own that cut deeply into the Sea-Elf's side.  Salin slumped backwards, falling to the grass, his head half in the water at the edge of the pond.
     With her Heritor's skill, Katheryne used her Back Swing, to launch a powerful stroke at Lord Fortrwyn.  But the old warrior was ready for it, and skillfully he locked his blade in hers, twisted his arm around in a circle, and the Heritor woman's ancestral sword broke free from her grip and spun lose in the air,  landing far away behind the shattered temple outbuilding.  He had Disarmed her.  Katheryne hissed at the Elf, "How dare you!"
    A  patronizing smile, came over Lord Fortrywn's thin lips.  "Please, girl, I fought and defeated your Grandfather in the Northern Border War when you were but a babe.  You think you could be a match for me?"  The Elf struck again, as Katheryne quickly drew a small secondary sword.  It wasn't quick enough though, as the tall Heritor's blade hit it's target putting a gash in the woman's side.  Blood dripped down onto her tartan skirt.
    But the battle was not over yet, as Quinlere could see more of Lady Katheryne's crew moving up.  He shot an arrow at an approaching Infantryman, but missed.   Marnilyne, the Warden, also saw the approaching support for the enemy Heritor.   As she rushed to help Gwynwater the Hunter with the Gorilla, she chanted her Bramble spell on the move. Within a second, thick ropey vines were pushing up out of the earth, sealing off the gap between the ruined temple outbuilding, and a patch of nearby jungle.
     Marny arrived at Gwyn's side just as the Gorilla reached the Hunter.  Her small sword seemed so useless, as she looked up at the beast that towered above her.  But the Hunter was more confident, and before one of the big ape's mighty clawed hands could make contact, the agile Elf was up and under with her two handed sword; and with a hard thrust stabbed it up and into the animal's torso.  (Gwyn rolls a 17 + 2 Fight + 2 Hunter vs Animal = 21 + 2 damage for 2-Handed Sword =23) Surely, the beast was dead the Hunter thought; but she was wrong.  It bellowed in fury, and staggered backwards, bleeding heavily from the wound in it's gut.  Staggering, it came back at the pair of Elf-women again, fire in it's eyes.  Gwyn was not sure if her leg could hold her much longer.  She and Marny both lunged forward at the creature, momentarily confusing it.  The Hunter's sword hit true once again.  This time the Gorilla had had enough, and it let out a final wheezing grunt, and fell heavily to the earth.
At the height of the battle. (Note: I mislabeled the photo. That is Quinlere standing by the temple outbuilding ruin, not Randilas.  Randilas had not arrived yet.)
      Back at the Treasure Stone, Lord Fortrywn prepared to, once and for all, end the line of House Coldvaughn.  As the Elf Warrior began to circled for the kill, Katheryne smiled despite her weakened state; for she saw that behind the Elf her Freebooter had come up to help her now that the threat of the Duckmen was gone,   And her Infantryman also had now run around the Bramble obstacle and pushed through the jungle to join the fight as well. Lord Fortrywn suddenly realized he was now facing three opponents.   "You old fool," Katheryne laughed, "Never underestimate the Northfolk!" She lunged at the Elf Heritor, as did her compatriots.  Lord Fortrywn had faced worse odds, and even now he was confident.  But he stood upon the rim of the treasure hole, and in maneuvering to block his assailants, he took a misstep, and for a second stumbled.  It was all a Heritor like Lady Katheryne needed; she lunged with her blood-gift strength, and her sword hit home and sliced through the Efl's armor like it was paper. (Lady K. player rolls a 20 + 4 Fight + 4 for two assistants= 28.  Lord Fortrywn's face flashed with surprise and then anger, as a blackness overtook his mind, and like tall oak, he toppled to the ground.  Lady Katheryne, exhaled and wiped the sweat from her brow. Tearing her shirt, she tried as best she could to bandage the wound.   Looking at her Freebooter, she simply said "Get the treasure."
    With the Gorilla dead, Gwyn felt ready to collapse.  Turning though, she caught sight of Lord Fortrywn's body lying in the tall grasses by the pond.  The Elf froze, horrified.  Slowly, the Hunter felt an anger growing in her soul, and the anger fueled a new energy in her.  She quickly prepared to rush off and punish whoever had done this.  Marnilyne saw her Uncle too, and choked back a half-scream half-sob.    The Hunter adjusted the straps crisscrossing her chest, and readied herself to avenge Lord Fortrywn and reclaim the treasure.  "Wait!" cried Marny, "You're in no condition."  And as Gwynwater paused, the Warden once again chanted the spell for Waters of Life.  The bubbling liquid from the pond, again pooled around Gwyn and a small trickle ran up her boot and began to soak into the fabric of her shredded pants.  Then, as quickly as the water had appeared, it receded back to the pond.  The Hunter nodded at Marny in thanks and, feeling better, headed off.  As she ran, she caught sight of Dirkand dragging his treasure chest, and ordered him, "Drop that for the Warden to take; and come with me."  Dirkland did as he was told, and went jogging after the Hunter, trying to catch up.  Marny moved to pick up the treasure.
     Quinlere shot again at the enemy Infantryman, this time hitting him squarely.  But the big man did not fall.  Instead he turned and charged at the Archer in fury, with his big axe raised high.  The Archer felt a bit of relief though, as he could see that Gwyn was fast approaching, and as if out of nowhere his fellow Archer, Randilas, appeared around the side of the ruined outbuilding. (Returning from his encounter with the Heritor, Skorri Drakenberg.)  But these two new arrivals had their own trouble soon enough; as, with her Northern warrior's blood stirred by her encounter with Lord Fortrywn, Lady Katheryne turned and charged at both the newcomers.
Lady Katheryne finds the tables turned.
     Randilas bravely stabbed with his dagger, but the Northland Heritor had the momentum of her charge behind her, and swung mightily at the Archer, blocking his dagger, and slicing a long but shallow gash right below his rib cage.  Randilas stumbled backwards.  Gwyn, however, was no dagger-armed young Archer, but a seasoned veteran with a two-handed sword; and as Katheryne repositioned from her strike at the Archer, the Hunter skillfully struck with a downswing, cutting deeply into her opponent's leg.  As they fought, Dirkand arrived on Gwyn's right, ready to help. 
     Behind this fight, the Infantryman had reached Quinlere, who like Randilas, attacked bravely; but all he had too was a dagger.  It hardly reached the big Infantryman before his opponent brought the axe down hard, cleaving deeply into the Archer's chest.  Quinlere crumpled down against the ruined building, his leather armor split wide.
        The big man then turned and moved over to help his Heritor, arriving  in just a few strides at Lady Katheryne's side, facing Dirkand, and happy to see a new target for his axe, once again cleaved hard at his enemy.   Dirkand dodged, missing the full strength of the blow, but instead caught the long  handle of the axe across his shoulder which was like being hit with a big club.  He felt his shoulder separate, and lights flashed before his eyes as the pain radiated, and a blackness overcame him, as he fell backwards to lay in the shallow water along the edge of the pond. Lady Katheryne also attacked, and swung her blade with superhuman strength at the Hunter.  Gwyn thrust her blade forward and caught the Heritor's.    For a second there was stalemate, as the two blades were interlocked, thrusting into the air.  Then, out of the corner of her eye,  the Elf caught sight of Lord Fortwyn's cape lying sky blue on the grass by the pond, and her resolve strengthened to be the match for any Heritor's.  "For Lord Fortrywn!" Gwynwater proclaimed through gritted teeth, and in the seconds before her leg might crumbled beneath her, she pushed forward with the full weight of her body while simultaneously pulling her weapon backwards.  She spun, and brought the weapon back up slicing hard across the side of Katheryne's head, cutting a wound from her chin to above her ear.  The Northwoman's head jerked back with the blow, and loosing her balance, Katheryne fell backwards and landed hard on the ground, where she lay unmoving.
Last man standing.  As Gwyn takes down Lady Katheryne, Randilas prepares to bering down the Infantyman. 
   Despite his serious wound, Randy had redrawn his bow in the intervening seconds, and he planted a second arrow squarely in the chest of the Infantryman.   This second hit took what remaining strength the big man had, and he fell too, into the weeds by his Heritor.     Gwyn quickly looked for the treasure that had come from under the stone, and caught sight of the Freebooter carrying it about a hundred yards away.   She turned to Randilas, and said, "Come on." and the two set off in pursuit.   But the gloom from the cloud cover made it hard for the Archer to get a good shot, and despite Gwyn's burning desire to recover the treasure, she knew she wouldn't get far with her leg in such bad shape.  After a few minutes she called off the pursuit, and the two turned instead to helping the wounded. 
    Back on the ship, The Silver Sword, the mood was somber.  Lord Fortrywn recovered quickly from his wounds thanks to his Heritor's blood; a lesser man would be dead.    He stayed in his cabin not wishing to be disturbed.  This suited the rest of the crew just fine, as no one wanted to be subject to his temper when he was in bad mood; and Lord Fortrywn was in  bad mood.   Gwynwater was the only one who dared go see him, and she passed on all his orders and information.  They had recovered a magic sword (+1 Fight), and 30 gold, from the chest they had claimed.    The Heritor gave the sword to Gwyn as a thank you for taking charge when he no longer could command, and for cutting down Lady Katheryne. The only part of the day's events to bring him any satisfaction.
   Quinlere the Archer was already dead by the time the Hunter and Randilas got to him there on the island.  They laid him out peacefully by the ruins of the temple outbuilding and the pond.  And Gwyn said a few simple soldier's words to mark his passing.    Crewman Vilkse was badly wounded by his encounter with Skoori Drakenburg, and would need a  couple months of recovery before he would be fit again.  The rest who had gone down during the battle, Salin, Arbyn, Dirkand, and Bry, would all be well again once their wounds were tended to by the ship's healer, and they had some rest.   
    Later that night, Lord Fortwryn  stared out the windows of his cabin.   It had been a disaster.  He feared the gods were against him, and he wondered why.   The day's expedition had seemed cursed from the start.  He would need to figure a better plan if they were going to succeed next time. His mind tossed through ideas like the choppy waves outside his window.  The one thing he did know, is there would be a next time; and next time it would go better.
The day's toll.


     What a brutal game!   At one point the player next to me jokingly asked if my d20 only had single digit numbers on it!  This is not a game for folks who can't roll dice well.
     In retrospect, knowing my luck with dice, I probably shouldn't have gone after the Heritor, Skorri Drakenberg, with only crewmen.  But I was getting a little desperate for treasure, and am an optimist (It could work, it might work...if I just roll really good, and he rolls really bad...); a dangerous combination for this game. 
    I can't say it wasn't an exciting game from start to finish, and afterwards I felt as exhausted as if I had been there myself.  And certainly there were highlights; wounded Gwyn's and brave Marny's stand against the Gorilla, and Gwyn finally taking down Lady Katheryne when the odds seemed stacked against her, were two of them. 
    But I need a better strategy.  The lack of treasure forced me to roam too far afield.  In the end I had soldiers injured by four different players. I need to try better to stay consolidated.   Also, I need to find a way to deal with all the archery in play.
    I have some ideas.  Only time will tell.