Monday, August 27, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 8: The Eritherean Graveyards

    Two Saturday's ago, on the 18th, we got together for the eighth game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign.  We unfortunately only had 4 of our regular 8 players in attendance.  We continued to work on the scenarios in the rulebook, moving on to the sixth one: The Eritherean Graveyard.    Because of so few players, we only used a 5'x3' table, with two players on each side.  As per the scenario instructions, the 2 Central Treasures were placed within the graveyard temples; along with one of the regular treasures from each player.   The players' second treasures were placed normally.
    Because there were just four of us, we used dice rolling instead of our usual chips-in-a-bag method for determining player order.  I got second placement, and chose the spot opposite my old nemesis Skorri, who had first choice, rather than risk ending up across from Herndon and his wall of Archers.  With Skorri and his Beast Warden, Agger, opposite me; Herndon and his Wave Warden, Ashalla, did end up on my right, and Molly Malone and her Storm Warden, Niskaru, diagonally across from  me, facing Herndon.

To see my account of the previous game, see The Stone Circles

A view of the table, showing starting zones.
    The Report

        The Elf Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, had first heard the tales of the Eritherean Graveyards from the sailors on his ship, The Silver Sword.   About half of the sailors believed the stories of the ornate temples and surrounding burial halls of the Archipelago's large elephant men were false, while the rest believed in their truth, and that they contained piles of gold and other treasures not to mention valuable Eritherean Tusks; all just laying around for the taking.    Over the months the stories the Heritor had heard on his travels around the Archipelago continued, and he began to think there may be some kernel of truth to them.  However it wasn't until the Elf Lord had found the old scrimshaw map in the bazaar on their last supply stop, that he knew where to look for such a graveyard; to see for himself if the tales were true.
     The seller had thought it was just a novelty piece, with various symbols and swirling lines carved on it; but to the eyes of an old military campaigner like Lord Fortrywn,  it was easy to see it was a map of sorts.
     They arrived at the island a little after dawn, and made their way ashore.   It was easy going, as there were clear paths leading to the island's interior.  Marked trails worn by centuries of large flat feet, made by Eritherean pilgrims heading to their final rest.    They passed a number of stone markers, crude symbols carved on them, marking the way for the old and very sick Eritherians who made this one-way journey. 
     It wasn't long before the walls of a tall temple came into view.  They were crumbling and vine covered with age.  Moving closer, they spied one of the graveyard halls. Lord Fortrywn halted his crew to survey the area.  He could see the hall was also in a state of disrepair like the tall temple, it's walls all crumbled with sections missing in spots.  The roof, if there had been one, was long since collapsed and probably blown away.  The air hung hot and heavy with the smell of death and decay mixed in with the usual stink of the humid rotting vegetation of the jungle.
     Lord Fortrywn crouched down and turned to the crew, and assigned the commands.   With himself he took the Hunter, Bindidell; and the dependable Crew-woman, Arbyn; as well as the Pearl Diver, Salin.    He assigned to his Niece, Marnilyne, (she was also his Vine Warden); the Archer, Tannin; and the Crew-women, Bry and Lilisea.   Crewmen Finil  and Crew-woman, Meriwyn were with Marnilyne, but were instructed to help where needed.
Starting positions.  On the Left; Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell, Arby, and Salin.  On the Right; Marnilyne, Tannin, Bry, Lilisea, Meriywn, and Finil.
              Lord Fortrywn had not even risen to move forward, when he heard loud voices on the other side of the graveyard hall.  From a small area of jungle on the far side, men appeared, and the Heritor quickly recognized the riff-raff that sailed with Skorri Drakenburg, the accursed human Heritor who always seemed to show up and plague the Elf Lord.   Lord Fortrywn couldn't even begin to fathom how Skorri had found this place and managed to arrive at the same time that he had.  Was there a spy in their midst?
    The Elf Heritor didn't have long to ponder that thought, before a strange bellow rent the dank air, and a living Eritherean appeared directly in the path of Skorri's men.  Lord Fortrywn wasn't sure if it was a temple guard, or some poor soul who had been disturbed from his deathbed.  But, whatever it was, Lord Fortrywn was overwhelmed with joy at his good fortune; knowing that this interloper would buy him precious time, while Skorri and his crew had to deal with it.  Quickly, he gave the signal to advance, and under his breath he hissed, "Hurry!"
     Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell, Arbyn and Salin all rushed for the Graveyard.  Knowing time was critical, the Heritor Surged, and ignoring the rising heat in his blood, he unshouldered his bow, and took a quick shot at one of Skorri's Archers who was in turn aiming at the Eritherean.  Unfortunately, the Elf Lord's shot went wide. 
     Meanwhile, Marny and her group headed towards the tall temple to investigate what treasure it may contain.  Stopping at the corner of the graveyard, the Warden cast Ladder on the nearest corner of the temple, and thick ropey vines quickly grew up the side of the ruins to the very top; forming a sturdy natural ladder.  Marny turned to Bry and Meriwyn, and said, "You two climb up there and let me know what you see."
   Tannin, the Archer, took up a position to offer covering fire, but knew his job would be limited as clouds quickly began to boil up in the sky signifying somewhere a Storm Warden had cast Cloud Cover. (Molly Malone's Warden, Niskaru.)
Lord Fortrywn and the rest of his command rushes to the edge of the Graveyard, the Heritor Surging to fire his bow.  The Central Treasure can be seen on the wall in the middle of the Graveyard, near the top of the photo.
    Lord Fortrywn hadn't even taken a step into the graveyard, when his keen Elven ears detected the whisper of an arrow nearby, and turning, he saw Bindidell the Hunter cry out in pain as she was struck in the hip. (-7 HP) With the arrow, still in her leg, she quickly ducked behind a nearby pillar and returned fire, ineffectively though. The Heritor looked back to the far side of the graveyard, and saw Skorri himself, with his bow in hand.  So, not everyone was dealing with the rogue Eritherean that had appeared in the midst of the Human's warband, the Elf thought.
     Lord Fortrywn quickly turned back to the task at hand and rushed into the graveyard, with Arbyn the crew-woman close behind.  The remains of deceased Erithereans  were piled everywhere, in various states of decomposition; but for the most part the floor was littered with several inches of bones, some shattered and jagged.  Turning his head back, he gave a hushed warning to the others behind him to use caution when they crossed the floor, as he instinctively knew that some of the bone shards could most likely have the cutting potential of a sword.   
   On Lord Fortrywn's right was the remains of a high wall running down the center of the graveyard, standing a good foot over the Heritor's head; and sitting along the wall were various tokens and trinkets left by the Erithereans who had come to die. There were bunches of dead flowers, crudely carved figurines, a couple rusty weapons, plus other offerings and mementos.  What caught the Heritor's eye though, was an ornate chest with delicate gold inlay.  (The Central Treasure)  He gave a quick signal to Arbyn and then he began to climb the wall.  Arbyn veered to her right, and hopping up on a crumbled part of the wall, raced along the flat top, sending a couple small statues and a bowl of decayed fruit flying.  She was just a couple feet from the treasure when another arrow sliced the air, this one striking the Elf Crew-woman in the upper right chest. (-8 HP) Arbyn's feet went out from under her and she fell back hard on the wall.  The wind was knocked out of her and a surge of pain went through her body as she fought to stay atop the wall.   Arbyn righted herself, and ignoring the searing pain,  remained kneeling and crawled towards the treasure.  With her hand extended to pick up the chest, a second shaft sliced the air, and struck the Crew-woman in her thigh.  The leg gave way, and Arbyn toppled to the far side of the wall and lay unmoving among the shattered bones. 
    Quickly, Lord Fortrywn scaled the rest of the way up the wall, and Surging, he picked up the chest; as his blood burned he let his momentum carry him forward, and he dropped down on the far side of the barrier next to where Arbyn lie.   Form around the end of the wall, he could see that Skorri's band now had a Crocodile in their midst, who seemed to be obeying commands.  More importantly the Eritherean they had been fighting was laying in the jungle grass, dead. (One of Skorri's crew had used a Crocodile Jade Idol to help fight the Eritherean.) Lord Fortrywn knew their time was up.
Arbyn gets tantalizing close to the Central Treasure on the wall before Skorri brings her down.  Lord Fortrywn is climbing up to assist.  Over on the left, Salin moves towards the chest by the pillar.  
          While Lord Fortrywn and Arbyn had dealt with the chest on the wall, Salin had spotted a another small chest over on the far right of the graveyard, near a pillar along the wall.  It lay half buried in a pile of bones, and more mementoes left by the dying.  Quickly the Pearl Diver raced to it, but could see a pair of Skorri's crew heading the same way.  The Pearl Diver drew his sword and prepared to defend the prize.  The first human came wildly at Salin, and he easily cut the man down (Rolled a 20!) The other man was a better swordsman than his fellow crewman, but Salin was able to defeat him as well.
         Meanwhile, at the nearby tall temple, Bry and Meriwyn climbed higher up Marny's vine later.  The Warden herself, however, raced back along the graveyard wall where she could see Bindidell trying to bandage her wound.  She could tell from the Hunter's shaking hands that she was badly hurting, so quickly chanted the spell for Waters of Life, and healing water began to form like dew on the Hunters skin.  Bindidell was shocked at first, but looking up, she spotted Marnilyne, and nodded at the Warden in appreciation for the relief.
     The moment of distraction cost the Hunter though, and from around one of the nearby pillars, appeared Skorri's Pearl Diver.  The man sliced at the Elf, and put a gash across her stomach. (-7 HP)  The Hunter stumbled backwards, clutching the new wound, and trying her best to defend herself wielding her 2-handed sword with one hand.  As Bindidell tried to stay conscious, and keep the Human at bay, she became aware of a chittering above her, and as she glanced up a Screamer Monkey (Summoned by Skorri's Warden)  dropped down on her head, and sank it's fangs into the side of her neck.  The Hunter's whole body seemed to burn with pain from her many wounds, and quickly a darkness flooded into her head, and with the manic chittering of the monkey in her ears, Bindidell passed out and fell to the grassy ground.
     While the others fought desperately around the graveyard, Tannin the Archer had been distracted by a distant buzz that had gradually grown louder.  Turning from covering the tall temple, he spotted a large winged creature  flying over the trees in the distance; behind and to the left of where the group and entered. (Giant Wasp, treasure generated beast.)  As it got closer to the graveyard, he repositioned himself to get a clearer shot, and notching an arrow, fired at the creature.  The arrow hit the insect in the side, and it dropped to the ground like stone.  Bt it wasn't dead.  (1 HP remaining) It buzzed and twitched it's wings, and staggered around the ground for a minute.  Then to Tannin's amazement, with the arrow still sticking from it, the Wasp took off again, though in more of extended hops now than in true flight; and it headed directly for the Archer.
Lord Fortrywn hands off the Treasure to Finil, and Salin takes on two enemy Crewman and bests them both. 
     Over in the Graveyard, Salin now saw that the Crocodile was heading his way, along with others of  Skorri's Crew.  Marnilyn from the other side of the graveyard saw the enemies approaching him too, and she quickly cast Brambles near to where the Pearl Diver stood.  With the Brambles keeping him safe for the moment. Salin, knew it was time to grab the small chest.   As he picked it up with one hand, he noticed a beautiful pearly white tusk laying next to it, and grabbing the valuable ivory object with his other hand, shoved it into his belt. Quickly he turned and ran to get out of the graveyard.
     By this time, the Crew-woman Meriwyn had reached the top of the tall temple to survey the area and see if she could spy anything of value.  She could see two other crews fighting in another graveyard on the far side of the temple.  On the vines several feet beneath, Bry called up to her, "Well?"
    Meriwyn turned to answer, and as she looked down, noticed a bit of shiny metal in the moss and weeds growing on top of the crumbling temple.    Reaching down, the Crew-woman grabbed hold of whatever it was and pulled.  The Elf was surprised when a crossbow emerged from the tangle of vegetation.  She couldn't fathom how a crossbow had gotten up on the temple.  Well, yes, she could; as she looked around at the excellent field of fire below her.  However, this weapon was far from being usable, caked in dirt grime and decaying plant-life as it was; but the fact that the metal fittings still gleamed and had not rusted over, told Meriwyn that this was no ordinary weapon.  "Found something!"  she called to Bry.
   And as she brushed off what detrius she could from the crossbow, she called back to Bry, "Who's at the bottom?"
    Bry glaced down, and saw the other Crew-woman, Lilisea, standing guard at the base of the vines. "Lilisea," she answered.  At the sound of her name, Lilisea looked up, and Bry directed her attention to Meriwyn at the top.  Meriwyn indicated she was going to drop the weapon down, and then did so.  The Crew-woman on the ground caught it deftly.  With that, Meriwyn began to climb down, and to Bry said, "I didn't see anything else important. Let's get back to the others."
     Back in the temple, Lord Fortrywn could see, like Salin had, that the enemy was now closing in on them.  Looking back he saw the Crewman, Finil, coming up and motioned for him to hurry.  Quickly the Heritor handed off the chest to the Crewman, and then prepared to hold off Skorri's crew. 
     Lord Fortrywn didn't realize just how many enemy crew that meant; but with Salin walled off by Marny's Brambles,  the Heritor had become the easiest target to reach.  With in moments, Skorri's Hunter, Archer, a Crewman, and the Crocodile (who had subsequently had Beast Strength cast on him by Skorri's Warden), had all converged on Lord Fortrywn.  (Skorri's men had a +11 Fight bonus for the first combat!)  Even with his Heritor's ability, it was too many opponents, and the first wave of fighting left the Elf Lord, bloodied and battered, but still standing. (Skorri's men roll 17+ 11F= 28; Lord Fortrywn reduced to 5 HP).  Lord Fortrywn knew it was a hopeless fight, but he could at least try to buy his crew time to escape.  If he could just bring one of the enemy down...  But fate wasn't on the Elf's side.  Lord Fortrywn lunged at the group, but the many blades, and teeth, were too much, and he fell to the ground, with multiple wounds covering  his tall frame.
Lord Fortrywn is attacked by 4 of the enemy and overwhelmed.
          While Lord Fortrywn was unsuccessfully trying to hold back his four attackers, just a short distance behind him, his niece, Marnilyne, found herself in a similar predicament.   As she had been distracted casting the Brambles to protect Salin and his treasure, Skorri's Pearl Diver and the summoned Screamer Monkey, had moved on from defeating Bindidell, and now charged at the Vine Warden.  Marnilyne tried desperately to defend herself;  but she was no match for two opponents, and the Pearl Diver's blade sliced her across her shoulder as the Monkey yanked her hair and took bites at her head and neck.  It's claws gouged into her.  (Hit with an 18, leaving Marny with 6 HP.  The Elf flailed her arms, and tried desperately to dislodge the Monkey as she lurched back and forth.  The Monkey was flung off, and the Pearl Diver stood there, shocked by the spectacle of the frenzied Warden. (Marny denies to fight on her activation, trying to buy time.)  However, it did not take her opponents long to regroup, and they had now been joined by Skorri's Hunter.  In seconds the Warden's three opponents were back at her, and a final attack dropped her, bleeding from multiple bites and cuts, to the ground where she lay in a contorted heap in the tall grass.
   A dozen yards away, the Giant Wasp had made it's way to Tannin, and the Archer found his dagger little use against the giant insect.  It's wings were as much of a hazard as it's stinger, and as it came at him, he stumbled backwards, and the stinger caught hm in the leg.  He cried out in pain, as his thigh was pierced, and the Wasp's venom entered his system.  (Wasp hits with an 18 total, and Envenoms.) Tannin's insides felt like they were all being turned inside out.  Bile rose in his throat.  Desperately, he lashed out with his dagger, and though it scraped along the insect's chitinous body, it did not pierce it  The Wasp buzzed backwards as best it could.  (Tannin hits, but does no Damage; pushes the Wasp back.)  The Wounded beast came at him one more time, and once again it nearly knocked him down.  The Archer's eyes caught the shaft of the arrow he had shot earlier still sticking from the insect's side, and without thinking, before he fell, he grabbed onto it and pushed with all his might, sinking the metal tip deeper into the Wasp's body.  The creature seemed to convulse, and its legs contracted violently, as it's momentum brought it's full weight into the Archer, knocking him over again.  But this time the creature was dead.
Marny is attacked, as Finil makes it out of the graveyard.
          Back in the Graveyard, Finil picked his way through the bones and other debris, as he tried to get the Chest away as quickly as possible  A sudden piercing pain in his back sent him stumbling forward.  The Crewman knew he had been hit by an arrow (From Skorri; 3 HP remaining), but despite the pain he had to keep going.  Regaining his feet, he continued forward; hoping to distance himself in the gloom of the Cloud Cover
   By that time the two Crew-woman had come down off the vine ladder.  Bry, who was first, ran to protect Salin's back.  Meriwyn hit the ground just second later, and she ran to cover Finil's escape.  The Crewman had cleared the graveyard, his back searing with pain with each step, and was trying to make it to the cover of a patch of nearby jungle.  Another arrow whizzed by him; too close for comfort.  He was so glad to have help, as he was growing weaker, and he knew Meriwyn could carry the chest if something happened to him.  As if his thoughts mirrored reality, another arrow from Skorri found it's mark, and Finil went flying in mid stride, dropping the chest as he tumbled to the ground. (Skorri's Hit total: 20.)   Meriwyn gasped in shock.  She must get the chest!  Skorri however, using his Heritor's skill, had already notched another arrow, and he had the range.  Before the Elf Crew-woman even took a step towards the the prize, an arrow found her as well; and with one clean shot to the lower back, sent her sprawling to the ground, where she lay motionless next to Finil.  (Skorri's second shot total is a 24!)
     A couple dozen yards away,  Tannin had managed to push the dead Wasp off him, and he struggled to stand up despite the overwhelming poison-induced nausea.  The Archer turned to find himself almost face to face with Skorri's Hunter, and before he could even raise his dagger the enemy had stuck his sword in his gut.  Tannin fell to ground, bleeding severely, and vomited before passing out. 
    Salin and Bry continued to flee with their chest, and likewise, just a dozen yards further on, Lilisea ran with her Crossbow.  Skorri's men pursued for a short distance, but in the dark gloom they decided not to get too strung out, and halted; content to have claimed three treasures for the day.   
Help arrives as Meriwyn moves to cover Finil's back (to the left), and Bry cover's Salin's (near top center of photo).  In the lower right, Lilisea makes it to the cover of a patch of jungle.
      Later that night, Lord Fortrywn lay in his bed, bandaged nearly from head to toe, and pondered the day.   The Heritor wasn't sure how he had recovered enough strength to get back to his ship, much less carry the limp form of his Niece to the landing boat.  Thank heaven for his Heritor's blood.  Marny was not much better off, but at least she would recover as well.  She too looked like a walking mummy; particularly with her head all swathed in bandages from the damage the Monkey had done.  The surgeon had assured the Warden the tip of her ear would grow back.
     Lord Fortrywn didn't even want to consider what the day had cost him.  His Hunter, Bindidell, was badly wounded from her encounter with the Pearl Diver and the Screamer Monkey, and might not make it.  Likewise, The Archer, Tannin, was not doing well, between the poison from the Giant Wasp, and deep stomach wound, the ship's surgeon was not sure he would survive the night either.  And, lastly, the Crewman Finil was looking like he might not live as well.  Skorri's first arrow, had hit a lung, and he lost a lot of blood from the wound.  It's amazing he had got as far as he had.    Lord Fortrywn was not a praying man, but he said one now to the Elvish Gods.  It has not been easy decision for the Heritor, but the surgeon had been insistent; if he wanted these people to live, they needed to get serious medical help... the kind only available at a major port.  And so they were headed for the mainland.  A trip they could ill afford.
     There was little on the bright side for Lord Fortrywn to look upon.  Yes, they had recovered two treasures, but that little made up for the injuries to his crew, and the expenses they now had to pay.  The chest that Salin had brought back from the graveyard had contained two bottles of Potion of  Regeneration  (I rolled 12 on the Herb & Potion table twice!) And at least he could sell one or both of them to help pay their way to port.  And the clever Pearl Diver had had the quickness of mind to grab a tusk in the midst of the chaos.  That would bring a very good price in the port as well.  Also, the Crossbow Lilisea brought back was a beauty of Superior quality.  The Elf Lord considered he may just have to keep that for himself.   And, luckily, if you could call it that, the rest of those who had fallen that day would make relatively quick recoveries... well, at lest they didn't require expensive medical care he thought.  And with that, he closed his eyes and tried to find the rest he desperately needed.
The ending body count.
     Arrg, what a fiasco! 
     I was so happy when on the first turn my initiative roll, last place as it was, triggered the appearance of an Eritherean that I got to place anywhere out of LOS.  Skorri's crew had not moved that far onto the table, and I was able to place it directly in his path behind a patch of jungle.  How was I to know his crew was carrying a Jade Idol of a Crocodile!
     And I made the cardinal mistake of dividing my crew.  The thought of the treasure on the temple, and the ease at which I could get to it using my Ladder spell clouded my judgement to the overall battle.
    And as usual, my dice luck was running at it's usual low level, with my crew getting last or next to last initiative every turn.    Compounded by Skorri's dice luck running at its peak height.
     Of interest in the game was that once again we had the channelling of the crews so that the encounter quickly devolved into two 2-player games.  A number of factors contributed to this I think.  One was that the majority of the treasures on both sides (3 out of 5) were located within the graveyard.  The other was that, with these rules, you just can't afford to let folks wander around; you need all your power in the same area, or the enemy will quickly overwhelm you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 7: The Stone Circles

     This past weekend we got together for the seventh game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign.  We had 6 of our regular 8 players in attendance.  We continued to work on the scenarios in the rulebook, moving on to the fifth one: The Stone Circles.    We used an 8'x3' table, with three players on each side.  As per the scenario instructions, the 3 Central Treasures were placed within circles of standing stones which stood upon low hills; though instead of the 6" deep water moats and pools that the rules suggest, we decided to just make the entire table a deep water table, and the hills we turned into islands.
        I was relatively lucky in drawing for starting position, getting fourth choice. This gave me the opportunity to know where three of my opponents would be located, yet still have 3 seats to choose from.    I selected a spot on the last remaining corner, with two treasures in apparent easy reach, and two more obtainable with a little effort. Whether I could get to the central treasure would be an on-the-fly-call, depending on how events unfolded.    Kragmar of the True Blood, and his Storm Warden, Samael Gale ended up across from me; and Skorri Drakenburg and his Beast Warden, Agger, were on my direct right.   The Heritor Herndon, and his Warden Arwhine, were across from Skorri, putting them to my front right.   The Heritor Gregorious and his Storm Warden, Missy; as well as the Heritor Griffin and his Wave Warden, Ashalla were down the far end of the table.

To see the report from the previous game, see: The Blood Totems
A view of the table and set up areas.
The Report

     The Elven Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, rapped his finger on the rail of the Silver Sword as he gazed across the misty waters off the starboard side.  He had been told the mystical standing stones were located upon a large island, placed in circular patterns upon small hills with moats around them.   And while technically, the stones were on small hills, and there was water surrounding them, it wasn't so much a single large island they were on, as a chain of dozens of little hill-like islands, some of which had the circular stone henges on them.  Had the big island flooded? Sank? The mysteries of the Ghost Archipelago continued to amaze and frustrate the Elf Lord.
     The Silver Sword could go no further in the narrow channels, so they would need to get the small launches into the water.  And that would mean delays. It was thirty minutes later that they were in the launches and heading for the nearest island upon which one of the stone circles stood.  The tall stones rose from the island's center, ancient and worn. 
     Lord Fortrywn divided his crew into two groups; thinking that taking only two launches would be more prudent.  The Heritor didn't want anyone getting lost in the maze of small islands, and he remembered the fiasco that had been the expedition to the Island of Floating Hulks were he had split the group into three boats, and they had been systematically cut to pieces.  Lord Fortrywn had lost Gwyn that day.  The old Elf sighed at the memory, and closed his eyes for a moment. He suddenly felt as ancient and worn as the large upright stones looming in the mist before him. She had been there at the start, the most loyal.  The Heritor shook his head, and regaining himself, he turned and looked at the crew behind him and in the boat to his port side  With himself he took the Hunter, Bindidell; and the dependable Crew-woman, Arbyn; as well as the Crew-woman, Meriwyn.  He assigned to his Niece, Marny's boat, (she was also his Vine Warden); the Archer, Tannin; the Crew-woman, Bry; the Crewmen, Finil; and Crew-woman, Lilisea, who was on her first expedition ashore.   Between the two boats, swam the Pearl Diver, Salin.  He felt he could make better time using his own powerful muscles than relying on the slower launches; so had urged Lord Fortrywn to allow him to forego riding in one of the smaller boats.

Lord Fortrywn's deployment, and the location of the closest treasures.
     As they neared the island, Lord Fortrywn surveyed the area, and motioned to Marnilyne, his niece and Warden, to steer her boat to the left, over towards a pair of islands that were linked by an old rickety wood bridge.  The Heritor direct Salin, the Pearl Diver, to swim over to a similar pair of linked island on their far right, while Lord Fortrywn directed his boat to row directly at the central island with the standing stones.
     As the Warden's boat bumped the rather steep edge of the nearest island on the left, Crew-woman Bry was first to leap ashore.  She couldn't believe her good fortune as she nearly tripped over a small chest half buried in moss and jungle undergrowth.  Quickly the Elf pried it lose.  Following her ashore in quick succession were Tannin, the Archer, who took up a position to offer covering fire in a small patch of jungle covering the center of the island; then the Crew-woman Lilisea, who made her way through the jungle after Tannin; and last from the boat was Crewman Finil, who circled around the far aide of the island.  Gazing over at the nearby larger island, the one her Uncle was heading to, Marny could see shadowy figures in the morning mist climbing the far bank of the island, and knew another crew was approaching.  Quickly, the Warden spoke the spell of Plant Walk, causing a small patch of tangled vegetation to slowly crawl around the outer edge of the large island, in an attempt to slow the progress of these new arrivals.
Opening moves, Turn 1: Marny's crew disembarks on the first small island, where Bry grabs the closest treasure, and Lord F. heads his boat towards the central island. Salin is in the water and about to swim towards the left side of the photo.
     Lord Fortrywn could see the opposing crew as well, and cursed his luck, and cursed the delay that had set them behind that morning.  The Elf's aggravation grew as he saw the big red-skinned Heritor, Kragmar of the True Blood,  stride up the far side of the island and enter the stone circle.  The Elf Lord's aggravation turned to shock as suddenly a glowing blue spirit form, wielding a translucent sword materialized in the center of the circle, and  lunged at Kragmar, putting a large slice across the enemy Heritor's gut.  (I rolled a 20 for the Spirit Warrior, doing 14 HP damage to Kragmar!)  Through gritted teeth, the big red warrior shouted to his crew behind, saying, "Get up here!"  The Lord Fortrywn then noticed the low boat on the far side of the island, from which three big burly fighters now spilled onto the shore to help their master.  A lone Archer was left in the boat, and a spark of an idea formed in  the Elf's's mind, as he came within just couple yards from the island.  Suddenly the skies began to boil with dark clouds, and Lord Fortrywn, feeling the tingle of magic, knew someone had cast a Cloud Cover spell. Probably Kragmar's Warden he figured.
      In just a few seconds more, The Elves' boat hit the shore, and Lord Fortrywn bounded out, almost immediately he came upon a small chest half buried on the shore, and without breaking stride, pointed at Arbyn and then to the wooden box. The Crew-woman knew what to do, though was a bit shocked to see her Heritor head not for the stone circle, but instead for the small boat with the lone Archer in it.  It took the Arvyn but a second to figure out what he was going to do: deny Kragmar his primary means of getting off the island.   As Lord Fortrywn headed for the enemy's boat in the growing gloom, and Arbyn recovered the treasure, Crew-woman Meriwyn selflessly interposed herself between Arbyn and the enemy Archer in the boat; just in case he should get any ideas of denying them their find. 
     The third rider in Lord Fortrywn's boat, Bindidell the Hunter, took up a position behind one of the tall upright stones.  She let loose an arrow at Kragmar, but it went wide. As she reached for another missile, she was suddenly hit by a powerful Wind Blast spell from Kragmar's Warden.   The Hunter pressed herself against the nearby stone, and dug her heels into the sandy soil.  Somehow she held firm, and the gust blew around her but the small Elf held firm.  (I rolled 17 +3 Will to the the Warden's cast of of 19!)
As Kragmar and his crew tangles with the Spirit Warrior in the center of the standing stones, Lord Fortrywn tries to do an end rush and grab the enemy's boat. Arbyn grabs the treasure on the back side of the island, as Meriwyn interposes herself between her crewmate and the enemy Archer.  On the top right, Bindidell takes up position behind a tall stone to fire into the melee. In the background, Salin swims towards the island where he will find the magic sword.  
         The enemy Archer, seeing the onrushing Elf , notched an arrow and let it fly.  The shot found a joint in the armor of Lord Fortrywn's right arm at the elbow, and just sliced along the edge, leaving a deep bloody furrow. (-5 HP)  In two more leaping steps, the Heritor hopped upon the prow of the boat, and swung his sword down at the Archer.  The enemy bowman ducked low, and came up with his dagger, this time getting Lord Fortrywn in the knee, and cutting another gash into him (Another -5 HP) The Heritor's blood began to burn, and he Surged forward with a powerful thrust, sinking his Elven blade deep into the Archers chest (Rolled 17 + 5F=22) The man toppled over the side of the boat and sank into the murky water. 
     By now Kragmar, and four of his men had killed the Spirit Warrior; at the cost of another Crewman.  With a grunt the enemy Heritor pointed at the small bejeweled stone head which sat at the center of the stone circle, and turning, made his way towards his boat along with one of the other crew.   The second Crewman moved forward and began to heave at the jeweled head, while a third Crewman, and an Infantry-woman rushed towards Bindidell, who still stood behind the tall standing stone.   As the Hunter saw the two adversaries approach, she drew her 2-handed sword.  The Elf seemed to adopt a defensive stance but at the last minute switched, and taking the offensive, lunged at the enemy Crewman, .  The man was caught off guard, and though the blade barely sliced his jerkin he lost his balance as he leaned away from the swipe of the Elven steal and staggered a few steps backwards. (I won the Fight roll, but did no damage, then pushed the enemy back.)  The Infantry-woman was now right on top of Bindidell. and hacked downward at the small Elf.  Quickly, the Hunter brought her big sword around, and blocking the other woman's blow, she repositioned her own blade and thrust it deeply into her enemy's side. (Rolled 17 + 2 Fight +2 Damage =21.) The Infantry-woman stumbled backwards, clutching her bleeding torso.
As Arbyn drags her treasure back to their boat, and Kragmar arrives at his boat where Lord Fortrywn has just dispatched the Archer,  Bindidell suddenly finds herself the target of two of the enemy crew. 
     Before Bindidell could recover her stance, another Wind Blast from Kragmar's Warden, Samael Gale, hit the Hunter squarely, catching her unprepared. The gust picked the Elf clean up off the island, and tossed her almost 25 yards away; dropping her right into the water as easily as if she had been a leaf.   In the small boat not that far away, Marny had a clear view of the two adversaries on the island who had been fighting Bindidell, who themselves seemed almost as shocked at the Elf Hunter's sudden flight, as the Hunter herself had been.  Chanting under her breath, the Elf Warden cast Warp Weapon on the wounded Infantry-woman, bending her sword into useless scrap metal. (I rolled a 9.)  On the small island behind the boat where Marny was, Tannin tried a long shot at the enemy woman, but in the dark cloud cover, missed his mark. 
     Soaking wet, with green swamp-weed clinging to her hair and clothes, Bindidell climbed from the water and up the shore of the island. Pausing, she unshouldered her bow, and quickly laying an arrow, released it at the Infantry-woman.   It hit the target squarely, sending the enemy reeling backwards where she fell and lay in the island's tall grass.
After Bindidell bests Kragmar's two crew and pushes them back, Kragmar's Warden blows the Hunter clean off the island.
     Meanwhile, Lord Fortrywn didn't even have time to unmoor the enemy's small boat, before Kragmar himself leapt directly into the middle of the vessel causing the little craft to rock wildly back and forth, nearly pitching the Elf Heritor into the water.  One hand on his sword hilt, the big red barbarian Heritor glared at the unwelcome passenger as first one and then a second of his crew got on board with their master; the second Crewman was carrying the bejeweled head.  Lord Fortrywn could see the enemy Heritor was still bleeding from the gash the Spirit Warrior had given him, and the Elf was all too aware of the wounds he himself had received at the hands of the enemy Archer.  With a grunt and a nod of his head, Kragmar indicated to the man at the fore of the boat to cast off, as the man who had been carrying the treasure, now picked up a pair of oars.  Quickly the Elf calculated his odds; there were three of them, but Kragmar was wounded, though he was wounded too. He cursed in old Elvish, and turned to see the water between the boat and the island getting wider.  The time for action had arrived, and turning, Lord Fortrywn leapt for the receding shoreline of the large island.
      Lord Fortrywn was not the only new arrival on the island, as on the far side  Salin the Pearl Diver, climbed up on the bank clutching a  grime-encrusted 2-handed sword he had found on one of the islands he had investigated.  Despite the grime, he could sense the magical vibrations in the weapon just by holding it.  The water ran from his muscular body in tiny rivulets, as he stuck the magic weapon in his belt, and headed for their nearby boat, where he saw Arbyn already seated with a small chest tucked under her seat, and the oars at the ready in her hands.  Nearby, Meriwyn shouted a greeting to the Paarl Diver, and as she did she caught sight of an area of glowing blue fog form in the middle of the stone circle.  Quickly the mist formed into a figure of a warrior with horns on his head; the Spirit Warrior wasn't really dead apparently.  Thinking quickly, Meri once again placed herself between the danger and the two treasure carriers. In seconds the Spirit Warriors had seen her and charged.  The Elf Crew-woman met his blow, and with a parry and thrust forced the creature back (I won the combat but didn't do damage.)
Lord Fortrywn suddenly finds himself being rowed away by superior enemy numbers.
     Back on the pair of linked islands that Marny's boat had headed for, Lilisea had reached a chest on the second island of the pair, but a boat carrying the enemy Warden and a pair of Crewman arrived at the same time, so a bit of stalemate ensued, as everyone eyed each other, and no one dared be the one to turn his back to pick up the treasure.  Finil arrived just in time to reinforce her, but no sooner had he arrived then Kragmar's Warden cast a Wind Blast upon the Crew-woman, sending her spiraling head over heels across the prow of the enemy's boat and into the water. 
     Back on the island they had originally landed on, Tannin still held his position in the patch of jungle.  Suddenly, on the far side of the trees, he heard a rustling, and a groan like noisy bellows, and from under a pile of sticks and vines, a sleeping Swamp Troll sat up and yawned.  All the activity on the island must have woken him.  Quickly, the Archer moved to get a clear shot, and releasing an arrow, struck the Troll in the arm. (-4 HP) Now the Troll was awake, and standing to his full height he let out a loud bellow.
     Nearby in their boat, Marny cast Brambles in the channel between the standing stone island and the bridge connecting the two side islands as a precaution to block the waterway from pursuit by any of the enemy vessels.
A view of the battle around Turn 4. The Swamp Troll has just woken up on the first small island on the right.
     Over by the enemy Warden's boat, Lilisee came to the surface and spat out water.  In the boat, the Warden was casting again and tried another Wind Blast, on Finil this time.  But the Elf Crewman held his ground despite the hurricane like gust that assaulted him.  With that attempt failing and Finil being all alone, one of the enemy Crewmen in the boat leapt onto the shore brandishing his sword and lunged at Finil.  The Elf Crewman's ears rang from the wind blast, and he tried desperately to get his sword around to defend himself. The Elf was a second too late though, and the enemy's blade slid along his weapon and sank into the his side. As the enemy's blade struck him, Finil twisted his wrist so his sword tilted up slightly, and as the enemy thrust towards him, he caught the man in a moment of overconfidence, and used the enemy's momentum to drive his own Elf blade into the enemy's gut.  The man's eyes widened in pain and he pulled back, as Finil too staggered a couple steps away.  (Both of us roll 19 and do -9 HP to each other.)  Both adversaries tried to remain standing despite the severe wounds.
        As Finil fought the enemy Crewman, Lilisea swam toward the enemy boat, and gracefully climbed up the side.  Before Samael Gale, the Warden, knew she was even there, the willowy Crew-woman gave a mighty thrust with her 2-handed sword and speared the spell user through his torso.
         Back on the other nearby little island, Tannin found himself almost face to face with a very angry Swamp Troll.  Thinking quickly, Marny spoke the Bramble spell again, and as the big monster prepared to club the Elf Archer, thick ropey vines shot from the earth at the Trolls feet, and began to curl upwards while sprouting with long spike like thorns.   The Troll was confused and didn't know quite what to do with this new obstacle, which nearly obscured his target.
The fight in the enemy's second boat.  Lilisea guts the enemy Warden like a fresh caught fish, while the wounded Finil and enemy Crewman fight on the shore.  
     Back on the big island, Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell made their way to the waiting boat where Arbyn and Salin were waiting, giving the stone circle a wide berth.  Within the circle, the noble Meriwyn dodged to and fro, sparring with the Spirit Warrior.    Lord Fortrywn  was just a few yards from the boat, and Meri knew it was time to get out of her predicament.   Gracefully leaping up, and holding her sword with two hands she dove at her ghostly opponent. With satisfaction she watched the shocked look on the spirit's translucent glowing face as her sword plunged down into its body. It was just a split second later that she realized the awful truth; the Apparition's weapon had also found it's mark, and the glowing blue blade now ran from just above her pelvis and upward out her side below the back of her ribcage. With a sight gasp she crumpled to the ground.  The Spirit Warrior's glow dimmed and faded but it did not dissipate; it simply hovered above the spot where the now-missing stone head had been, seeming to be weak and indecisive.   (Both opponents roll 20s, KO-ing Meriwyn, but leaving the Spirit Warrior with 2 HP left.)    While the creature wavered, Lord Fortrywn rushed over and grabbed the limp Crew-woman's body and bounded with her back to the boat.
    Meanwhile, those waiting in the nearby boat found themselves being plagued by a large Blood-drinker Bat.  It shot like an arrow out of the gloom straight for them.  Wielding her 2-handed sword, Bindidell swung at it, but merely swatted it. (Won the Fight, but did no damage) The Bat dodged back and flew a few dozen yards into the air.  The Hunter grabbed her bow and took a shot at it, but missed.  The creature seemed to hesitate, apparently realizing the threat that these potential victims posed, and contented itself to merely hover in the air considering its next move.
As Lord Fortrywn nears the boat, the Spirit Warrior takes out Meriwyn, and a Blood-drinker Bat menaces the boat.
     Back on the second small island,  Finil gathered his remaining strength (1 HP remaining), and made a last stab at his equally badly injured enemy, finding his mark and knocking the man into the water.  With heavy breath he collapsed to the grass, exhausted, and forgetting all bout the treasure which lay partially concealed nearby.   Slowly he began to crawl back towards the first island where he knew Marny was waiting with the boat.
      In the meantime a second enemy Crewman (the one that had fought Bindidell on the big island a couple turns earlier) swam up to the boat where Lilisea was, and she suddenly found herself about to be outnumbered.     Seeing Lord Fortrywn and the others departing in their own craft, the Elf decided discretion was the better course, and jumped over the side, and swam for safety.
The end results.  Three treasures recovered, and Meriwyn the only figure that goes down during the game. 
     Latter that night, aboard the Silver Sword, Lord Fortrywn sat at his desk, the two small chests and the dirt-encrusted 2-handed sword all set before him.    Setting his wine glass down, he arched his fingers together on his stomach and leaned back taking it all in. The first expedition where they had retrieved 3 treasures!  The Heritor was pleased.  Across from him sat his Niece, fidgeting in her chair excitedly.   He arched an eyebrow at her and said with a pleased grin, "Shall we see?"
     Marnilyne nodded grinning ear to ear.  Lord Fortrywn slowly leaned forward and gently picked up the first small chest. It was locked, but the fittings were so rusted, that he was able to slide his dagger into a gap in the back of the chest, and with a little of his Heritor's ability, broke the hinges clean through.  He slowly pulled back the lid, and saw the glimmer of gold inside.  There wasn't much, but still, 20 GP  was better the nothing.   
     The other chest held 2 vials.  The first held a small sprig of Lingle Berries, the second held a small segment of Quickbeam Root.  Lastly, he picked up the long 2-handed sword.  Dipping his fingers in the glass of wine sitting to the side of his desk, he rubbed them on a small section of the blade and the grime came easily away.  The metal beneath seemed to glow from an internal light. The Elf held his fingers for a moment on the clean section of blade, and considered.  "Vengeful in nature.",  he said, musing to himself, and set the sword back on the desk.  (+1 Dam Magic Sword)
    He turned his attention to his Niece.  "All in all a successful day.  Any word on our wounded? How is the Crew-woman who was struck down by the Spirit Warrior?"   
     Marny collected her thoughts for a moment, then spoke. "The Surgeon said they all will make a full recovery.  Meriwyn's wound, though bad to look at, actually passed mostly harmless along her side, just under the skin layer.  It avoided her major organs."
     "Lord Fortrywn nodded, "Good. Good."  We will need everyone at full health soon.  I've been researching a fabled graveyard of the Eritherean people.  Not only are their tusks highly prized, but they are known to lay relics with their dead, to pay for the passage to the afterlife"  There may be clues to the Crystal Pool among them." He paused, and thought to himself for moment, considering some detail of legend, then went on, leaning forward towards his Niece,  "We will be heading to find it at first light, so you should get some rest". With that, the girl jumped up, and obeying her Uncle, slipped out the door and gently shut it behind her.

     It turned out to be quiet a fun game! And another personal best, with 3 treasures retrieved.  I have to say I enjoy the game much more when my warband's not being used to clean the jungle floor!  I was actually rolling dice competitively this game instead of being out-rolled at every turn.
     I think another reason I enjoyed the game a little more, was that due to the nature of the scenario, and the terrain layout, the game quickly evolved into 3 two-player games.  So much so that once initiative for the turn was established, each pair kind of worked through the individual turn phases at their own pace, only stopping at the end for everyone to catch up again.
      I wanted to add a note about Lord Fortrywn's unfortunate boat ride.  I wasn't shocked to see Kragmar and his crew head for the boat with the Central Treasure, figuring I was in for a fight.  What I was surprised to see, was his refusal to initiate a fight.  But I have to say it was a pretty clever move on the part of my opponent: he didn't have to fight!  While both our Heritors were badly wounded (Kragmar -14HP for fighting the Spirit Warrior, and me -10 HP from the Archer.), he outnumbered me with two extra crewman.  The real problem for me was his boat was two turns from the table edge and there were three opponents.  I knew the odds of me defeating all three were low, but I would have been tempted to try; but the odds of me defeating three of them in two turns was astronomical.  So I had to make a quick decision and that decision was to jump for the island.
     The game really was a close-in engagement, due to a large degree to the scenario; particularly the treasure placement restrictions so close to the central stone circle, and the respawning of the Spirit Warrior every time it was killed.  Next month promises to be very similar with the majority of treasures being placed within a 12"x12" temple, and the temple floor being littered with knife-sharp bone shards.
     The game had a very sudden death ending when the last of Gregorious' warband left the table in turn 6.  So, Kragmar and I were kind of left hanging with the treasure on the second small island unclaimed at the end.  Because of this, I had to take some liberties with my narrative report and have added a few bits that weren't in the game but were needed to wrap up the story; like Finil being too weak from his wound to remember to pick up the treasure, and Sir Fortrywn grabbing Meriwyn off the island before the boat left, as examples. Hopefully that won't disturb anyone's enjoyment of the report.

For Skorri's report from this game, see: The Stone Circles

    See you all next month!